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■ I 














Late Private Company K, 13th N.J. Volunteers and Lieutenant 
Veteran Reserve Corps, 



Copyright, 1S99, 


F. Tenn'sson Nkuly 


United States 

Great Britain, 

All Rights Ueserved. 



(Late of the gth and 178th Regiments, N. Y. Volunteers) 






Digitized by the Internet Archive 

in 2010 with funding from 

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill 


What is army life during the time of war like, as 
seen by "the rank and file" — the men who compose the 
great majority? 

To give an idea of the experiences and everyday ex- 
istence of the private soldier was the main object in 
writing this story. 

The world is full of books written from the standpoint 
of the officers, giving the movements of troops and gen- 
eral accounts of great battles, and describing the 
maneuvers as witnessed from headquarters. They are 
histories, it is true, as seen by the writers, but they do 
not portray the life, hardships, trials and sufferings of 
that portion of the army known as "the men." 

There is a great dividing gulf, military and social, 
between "officers" and "men," and they see the same 
things with vastly different eyes. 

There are very few works relating to the actual ex- 
periences of the private soldier, giving his troubles and 
his joys, and presenting the dark and the bright sides of 
his life in the army. Hence this story covers a some- 
what unbeaten field, and its novelty will proportionately 
add to its interest. 

The story is historically correct, so far as it goes. It 
is part of the history of the Thirteenth Kegiment, New 
Jersey Volunteers, in the War of the Rebellion. But it 
is only so in part, for it is merely carried far enough to 
give the reader an idea of a private's life in the army. 


To extend it further would be largely a repetition o£ 
the same experiences, for, with topographical and cli- 
matic variations, all marches and battles are similar — 
to the private soldier. Most of the names used are gen- 
uine and a majority of the incidents portrayed are the 
actual experiences of the author; hence for the nearly 
two years covered it is history. 

It may be confidently asserted that nothing has been 
exaggerated or overdrawn. Nor is there anything in it 
especially remarkable. Practically it relates the experi- 
ence of nearly every private soldier who served in the 
civil war. Thousands and thousands of others could 
refer to it as their own history, for their experiences 
were identical with it. 

To give the youth of the country a faint idea of real 
war and real army life ; to instil in them sentiments of 
patriotism ; to impress upon them the magnitude of the 
task of preserving the Union ; and to cause them all the 
more to appreciate the blessings they now enjoy through 
the patriotism, sufferings and privations of their fathers 
and grandfathers, were also objects which instigated the 
story of "The Young Volunteer." 




"Say, Joe, won't you carry this package of cheese 
around to Mr. Pennington's? The boj^s are all out, and 
I promised to send it some time ago." 

The speaker was Henry B. Crosby, who kept the big 
grocery store in Main Street. He was variously known 
as "The Grocer King" and "The Cheese Prince" — the 
latter appellation resulting from his custom of buying 
cheese by the cargo and selling it a lower price than any 
one else. If I had known then what I afterward knew, 
I would probably have said "Cheese it," and forthwith 
"skipped," instead of being a "skipper." If it hadn't 
been for that pound of cheese I might never have been 
in the army, and the war might have been going on 

Aaron S. Pennington's big stone mansion was a fine 
old residence and stood on a high hill. The ground was 
then on a level with what is now the second story, and 
to this day you can see the former big front door up 
there in the air. It was surrounded by spacious 

Aaron S. Pennington, like all the old gentlemen of 
that day, generally did his own marketing. You could 
see him walking down among the hucksters on Main 
Street every morning, with a big market basket on his 
arm. Few of the grocers and butchers had wagons in 
those days. People bought their own provisions and 
generally carried them home themselves. How Mr. 
Pennington came to leave that pound of cheese to be 
sent home I never knew. 


I did not work in the grocery store. I was employed 
in the Guardian office. In the forenoon I set type. In 
the afternoon I wrote down the war news at the only 
telegraph office in the city, which was in the old Erie 
depot. "Jack" Dunning was telegraph operator. 
"Tune" Dougherty, who was then a wee bit of a fel- 
low, was the sole messenger boy. In the afternoon 
when the paper was out, I carried a route and sold 
papers on the street. In the evening I tended office and 
helped on the books, for I understood bookkeeping. 
Wages one dollar and fifty cents per week. 

Still, my hours were not ironclad, and I had time 
left to go around a little to pick up local items, and 
Crosby's grocery store was one of my "loafing" places. 
There was a considerable degree of familiarity between 
the boss grocer and myself, and that is how he asked 
me, as a favor, to carry around the cheese to Mr. Pen- 
nington. This introduction is given, therefore, not only 
as an historical fact, but as an example to show by what 
insignificant events a man's life is frequently swerved. 
Many a time afterward I hurled boundless anathemas 
at that pound of cheese, and wondered why Aaron S. 
Pennington wanted cheese for supper on that particular 

I well remember the day. It was Wednesday, Au- 
gust 18, 1862. And right here let me interpolate a little 
historical data. 

It was, so far as the feelings and apprehensions of the 
North were concerned, the most critical period of the 
war. The Army of gthe Potomac had retreated from a 
position whence they could actually see the seven hills 
of Richmond, back to Harrison's Landing, on the 
James River. General Lee was marching with the 
Confederate army close behind, and even Washington 
was threatened. The North was, as a consequence, 
precipitated into a genuine ppmic. It looked as if, be- 
fore another month, the Confederates would be in pos- 
session of the National Capital. President Lincoln 
issued a call for three hundred thousand additional vol- 
unteers. If enough could not be obtained voluntarily, 
a draft was to be ordered. 

It should be stated that the first rush to arms, in 1861, 


had been spontaneous. The first term of enlistment 
was but for three months. Then it became apparent 
that the rebellion was not going to be suppressed in 
three months, and three years' men were called. The 
ambitious, impulsive j'ouths who are ever on the watch 
for adventure, constituted the first spontaneous outpour- 
ing of robust young patriots, but in 'G2 it was different. 
Things had become serious. The people of the country 
had suddenly awakened to a realization of the fact that 
they had a real war on hand. And not only a war, but 
probably a long and stubborn one, against an enemy 
equally brave, almost as strong, and, perhaps, still 
more determined. 

It would be impossible for the present generation to 
form the slightest conception of the excitement that pre- 
vailed. Public meetings were held everywhere, and the 
most potent orators in every locality, were urging upon 
the young men to do their duty by flying to the defense 
of their country. 

I was one of the "flyers." And it was all through 
that pound of cheese. As I came back from Mr. Pen- 
nington's, I saw a big crowd of people in front of the 
old "bank building in Main Street. There was a big 
stone piazza or vestibule on a level with the second 
story, which was reached by flights of stone steps on 
each side. On that piazza some one was making a 

It was Henry A. Williams, the mayor of the city. 
He told of the imperilled country and urged on the 
young men to enlist. Socrates Tuttle, a prominent 
lawyer, described what a glorious thing it was to fight 
for one's native land. Colonel A. B. Woodruff, Gen- 
eral Thomas D. Hoxsey and others spoke in a similar 
strain. The result of it all was that half the boys in 
the crowd couldn't get to the nearest recruiting office 
quickly enough. 

It is a very singular thing that of all these impas- 
sioned orators who said it was such a glorious thing, 
but one enlisted himself! But then, perhaps, it was 
necessary to have some one remain home to do the talk- 
ing! One of them, however, who was subsequently 
drafted, nobly fougbt and died — by proxy. He sent a 
substitute, at a cost of eight hundred dollars. 


And that reminds me of a thing that has perhaps been 
forgotten. So afraid were some of the leading citizens 
that they might be drafted, that they formed a "mutual 
substitute insurance company." It cost at that time 
eight hundred dollars to get a man to take your place. 
(Later in the war the price advanced to fifteen hun- 
dred and two thousand dollars.) Well, eight men 
would chip in one hundred dollars each into a general 
fund, and if any one of the eight was drafted the money 
would be used to "buy a substitute." If two of them 
were drafted, the extra money was raised by an addi- 
tional assessment ; but the drafting process was like a 
lottery, and as a matter of fact there was seldom more 
than one "prize" in an association of eight men. I 
might mention the names of quite a number of well- 
known citizens still living who belonged to these sub- 
stitute insurance companies. At political meetings I 
have often heard some of them shouting "how we saved 
the Union!" 

But we poor chaps, who couldn't raise one hundred 
let alone eight hundred dollars escaped the draft by 
enlisting. It wasn't fear of the draft, however, that 
influenced us. I was just past eighteen years old, and 
"liable," but so far as I was concerned I never once 
thought anything about being drafted. 

Why I, and the other fellows, came to enlist, is some- 
thing I never could explain. I think I am safe in say- 
ing that, at the moment, genuine patriotism hardly 
entered into the question. Of course there were some 
who enlisted from patriotic motives; but when one 
comes down to the bottom facts, I believe a majority of 
the boys were induced to go from other motives. Most 
probably it was the general excitement of the times. It 
was simply a furore to go to the war. To many it was 
a change from the ordinary humdrum of life. To others 
it was looked upon as a picnic. And then in every 
boy's heart there is an inherent spirit of adventure. 

The orators on the steps of the old bank building had 
said the reason the war had lasted so long already was 
because there were not enough soldiers at the front. 
But now all that would be attended to in short order. 
With the great army that was about to be organized. 


the war couldn't possibly last more than three months 
longer By cold weather it would all be over. As said 
before, what particular motive I had in enlisting, be- 
yond an impulse, I don't know, and many of my com- 
panions frequently expressed a similar opinion. But 
enlist we did. 

Hugh C. Irish was forming a company for the Thir- 
teenth New Jersey Volunteers. It is in his memory 
that Camp No. 8 of the Sons of Veterans of Paterson is 
named. Mr. Irish had been my employer, as one of the 
proprietors of the Guardian. For some reason Mr. Irish 
sold out his interest in the Guardian and embarked in 
the grocery business. He had been there but a few 
months when he became convinced that it was his duty 
to go to war. Mr. Irish was one of the men who 
entered the service out of pure loyalty and patriotism. 
In his case the motive was unquestionable. 

Mr. Irish had been authorized to raise a company for 
the Thirteenth Regiment, then forming at Newark, 
under the president's call, and he was to be the captain. 
His grocery store was transformed into a recruiting 
office. The recruits signed the roll on the bottom of a 
soap box. It was to this place I hastened after hearing 
the patriotic speeches from the steps of the old bank 
building. Whatever hesitation I might have had on 
the way thither was completely knocked out by the 
tune of "The Girl I Left Behind Me," which was being 
played on a cracked drum and wheezy fife by two 
"musicians" in baggy clothes who had just enlisted 
themselves. They stood in front of the store banging 
and blowing away for dear life. 

Under ordinary circumstances such music would 
have been rotten- egged. As it was, it was but a noisy 
echo of the spirit of the times, and filled the heart of the 
listener with patriotic emotions that were simply irre- 
sistible. No one, hearing such martial strains, could 
resist the war influence ! I couldn't. In a very few 
moments I had signed an eagle-headed sheet of paper 
which bound me, "stronger than ropes and cords could 
bind me, " to the service of the United States of America, 
"for the term of three years unless sooner discharged." 

I had scarcely signed before I began to be sorry. For 


the first time I realized what I had done and began to 
be frightened. But the sight of so many of my friends 
and companions around me soon dissipated that feeling. 
There was "Rats" and "Curt" and "Liv," besides 
Captain Irish, ail from our office. "Rats" was David 
Harris. "Curt" was Curtis Bowne, whose tragic and 
singular death at the battle of Antietarn will be noticed 
later on. "Liv" was E. Livingston Allen, now a 
Methodist minister. He is the only one of the lot who 
went into the ministry. All those mentioned were 
printers. Then there were James G. Scott (afterward 
captain) and Hank Van Orden, Jim Dougherty, Jack 
Stansfield, Heber Wells, "Ginger" Clark, John Butter- 
worth, "Lem" Smith, John Snyder (with the big 
nose), "Slaughter House Ick," Dan Wannamaker, 
John J. Carlough, Sandy Kidd, John Nield, John An- 
derson, "Dad" Bush, Reddy Mahar, George Comer, 
William Lambert, Archy McCall, ArchyTodd, "Jake" 
Engel, "Jake" Berdan, W. J. Campbell, W. J. Car- 
lough, John Farlow, Thomas Hardy, Joseph H. Pewt- 
ner, Theodore S. Perry, James H. Peterson, and a 
whole lot of other fellows I had known, and some of 
whom will come in for further reference during the 
course of this story. 

The immediate association of all these — the fact that 
so many old acquaintances had enlisted together and 
would go to war together, relieved the event of the 
lonesomeness and awfulness of the step. It was simply 
impossible to remain lonesome and downhearted in com- 
pany with such a crowd — and many others whose 
names are now beyond memory's call. And when one 
comes to look at them, they must have been physically 
a tough set, for many of them are yet alive, and some 
of them do not look much older than they did during 
the war. 

There were a number who felt dubious about enlist- 
ing in a regiment which was to bear the unlucky num- 
ber "13," but it wasn't a superstitious crowd, and that 
was soon forgotten. Nor was it an aristocratic crowd. 
Nearly all were poor working boys. 

A sort of pride fills the heart of the new recruit. He 
imagines that he has already done something brave. 


and rather looks down on those who have not signed the 
roll. When I went to see my girl that night I felt con- 
siderably puffed up. As it was a good-by call, I asked 
for her picture. 

"What,'' exclaimed she, "and have some stranger 
take it out of your pocket if you are killed? I guess 

That wasn't very pleasant. Getting killed wasn't in 
the bargain. I didn't feel a bit comfortable at such a 
gloomy possibility. 

But when I left the house I had the picture of a very 
pretty girl in my pocket. The girls of those days were 
patriotic, and he indeed was a poor soldier who had 
not in his pocket a picture of "The Girl I Left Behind 
me. ' ' 




A day or so later a squad of recruits for Company K, 
Thirteenth Regiment of New Jersey Volunteers, pro- 
ceeded to Camp Frelinghuysen, Newark. The camp 
was along the canal, in the higher portion of the city. 
There was no railroad then between Paterson and New- 
ark, and our contingent went down by Barney Demar- 
est's stage, reaching camp shortly after noon. Many 
others had preceded us. 

When the stage started from Paterson it wasn't a 
very jolly crowd. Many an eye bore a redness indica- 
tive of recent tears, for the hardest part of enlisting is 
the parting with one's dear ones at home. There was 
many an affecting scene in many a home the previous 
night. Not that parents and sisters and sweethearts 
were not patriotic; but it was with copious tears that 
mothers and sisters, while admitting that the sacrifice 
was loyal and right, bade good-by to the dear foys they 
might never see again. The mother's tears that had 
dropped on the soldier's coat sleeves were hardly dry 
when the boys rode over the Main Street cobblestones 
in Barney Demarest's rickety old stagecoach, and the 
influence of the last embrace and farewell kiss was 
still upon nearly all. 

But human nature is buoyant. Perhaps it was to 
offset the gloomy farewell that the boys soon became 
boisterously merry, and they made the morning air 
resound with their shouts and their hurrahs and their 
song of 

" We're coming Father Abraham 
Three hundred thousand more. " 

The stage was gayly decked with flags, the crowds in 


the streets shouted a hearty farewell, and all sorrowful 
thoughts were soon drowned in the noise and racket that 
was too loud to permit any one to think. A similar 
noisy demonstration greeted us at "Acquackanonk" 
(Passaic), Bloomfield and Newark, and a hurrah arose 
from the throats of the already arrived recruits as we 
drove past the guards at the entrance to Camp Freling- 
huysen. The armed guards and picket line around the 
camp was another evidence that we were no longer free 
men ; but we did not fully appreciate that fact until 

And yet the camp presented a picturesque appear- 
ance. The colonel's tent stood at the top of the hill. It 
was a large and commodious canvas house. Near by 
were similar but smaller tents for the lieutenant-colonel, 
major, adjutant and quartermaster. Still further down 
was a long row of still smaller tents, occupied by the 
captains and lieutenants. Running at right angles 
from the latter was a row of large, circular tents, oc- 
cupied by the "enlisted men" of each company. These 
were known as "Sibley" tents, and resembled an Indian 
tepee, with a ventilator at the top. These tents would 
accommodate fifteen or twenty men. In our innocence 
we supposed that we were to have these tents right 
along all through the war. For all that we knew, all 
the soldiers in the army had the same commodious and 
comfortable quarters. We were undeceived on this 
point, however, in the course of a very few days. 

Shortly after our arrival we were taken before the 
regimental surgeon for examination. The surgeon was 
Dr. J. J. II. Lo-ve, one of the most brusque-appearing 
and yet most kind-hearted men that ever lived. Until 
his recent death he was one of the most respected and 
prominent residents of Monte lair. 

"Strip," oidered the doctor. 

There were five or six examined at a time. "We 
boys, who never had a pain or qualm in our lives, 
thought it was a needless formality, but were told that 
it was '"according to the regulations." Then the doctor 
punched us and pinched us, rubbed his hands down our 
legs as if we were so many horses, seized us in the groin 
and told us to cough, and finally said: 


"Let's see youi teeth?" 

"What do you want to see my teeth for?" I asked. 
"Are we to bite the enemy?" 

"Something tougher than that," good-naturedly an- 
swered Dr. Love. "You will have to bite hard-tack 
and chew cartridges, and I guess you will find both 
tougher than any rebel meat you ever will see." 

I didn't know then that hard-tack was the stuff sol- 
diers were mainly fed upon; but I found out before 
long. For the information of the reader I will explain 
that a hard-tack is the most deceptive-looking thing in 
the world. Its general appearance is that of a soda 
cracker, but there the resemblance ends. You can bite 
a soda cracker. A hard-tack isn't tender. Compared 
with it a block of granilite paving stones would be 
mush. That is the sort of pastry the government fed 
its soldiers upon. Hard -tack must have been referred 
to in that part of the Bible where it says "he asked for 
bread and they gave him a stone. " A further corrob- 
oration of this conclusion lies in the positive fact that 
every box of hard -tack that ever arrived in the army 
was marked: 

"B. C. 348,764," 

the variation being only in the figure. The "B. C." 
was on every box. And judging from the antediluvian 
toughness of some of the crackers, the prehistoric ancient 
who stencilled on the figures either accidentally or wil- 
fully post dated the box several thousand years. 

What "chewing cartridges" meant, I hadn't the 
slightest conception of, but learned that subsequently. 
That my teeth were apparently equal to the emergency 
of both biting hard-tack and chewing cartridges, how- 
ever, must have been a matter satisfactory to Dr. Love, 
for I successfully passed the ordeal of a "surgical exami- 
nation. ' ' 

The next thing was to go to the quartermaster's and 
get our uniform and equipments. What a lot of things 
there were! 

There were undershirts and drawers and thick stock- 
ings, all supposed to be of wool, but apparently mainly 
composed of thistles and sticks — the coarsest things a 


man ever put next to his skin. And it was midsummer 
at that ! Then there were a pair of light blue trousers, 
a dark blue blouse, a dark blue dress coat, a heavy, 
caped light blue overcoat, a knit cardigan jacket, a for- 
age cap, a heavy woolen blanket, a thick rubber 
blanket, and a pair of heavy brogans. These were the 
clothes. Added, to this were a knapsack, a haversack, 
a canteen, a cartridge belt, a bayonet belt, and an Enfield 

As the men were called up, the clothing, etc., were 
thrown in front of each one in a pile, and utterly re- 
gardless of fit or size. When the recruits repaired to 
their tents and donned the uniform, they presented a 
ludicrous appearance. 

"How do I look, boys?" asked Hank Van Orden, as 
he emerged from his corner. 

"Hank" was a sight to behold. Nature had been 
generous with him as to legs and arms, and as luck 
would have it, he had got a small-sized suit. The bot- 
tom of his trousers didn't come down to his shoe tops, 
while his arms stuck several inches beyond the end of 
his blouse sleeves. The shoes were too tight and his 
cap was stuck on the back of his head in a comical 

"Don't laugh at me. Look at Heber," said Hank. 

There stood Heber Wells, dressed up in a suit Van 
Orden ought to have had. His trousers were turned up 
at the bottom like a dude's of the present day, while 
the sleeves of his coat fit like a Chinaman's. His cap 
came down to his ears. 

Kobust Abe Godwin couldn't button his clothes about 
him, while slim Johnny Nield had twice as much uni- 
form as he wanted. In fact, while there were different- 
sized suits, no man had got a suit anywhere near fit- 
ting, and a more incongruous lot of noble soldiers could 
not be imagined. Falstaff 's army was simply nowhere. 
But the difficulty was in a measure overcome by ex- 
changing suits, an operation that took nearly all the 
afternoon. Still they didn't fit. But nobody but a raw 
recruit would spend more than a moment thinking about 
the fit of his uniform. 

The clothes were awfully uncomfortable. The ab- 


souce of a vest was particularly noticeable. "Enlisted 
men" in the army never wear vests. There was a nasty 
smell of dye-stuff. The coarse underclothes tickled and 
irritated, the heavy brogan, for men who were used to 
gaiters and Oxford ties, were disagreeably clumsy. 
And, above all, the wearing of woolen stockings a 
quarter of an inch thick, in the August dog days, fairly 
capped the climax. 

"Fall in for your rations." 

Such was the cry we heard for the first time, about 
6 o'clock. None of us knew what "fall in" meant; 
but Heber Wells, who had been selected as orderly ser- 
geant, told us it was to get into a line, one after the 

"Forward march!" said Heber. 

It is the rule in the army to step off first with the left 
foot, but we didn't know that. Some started with the 
left and some with the right, and the whole line came 
near stumbling over each other. After going to the 
lower end of the company street, the new orderly cried 

"File left." 

Heber took hold of the leading man and twirled him 
to the left, and the rest of us followed. Otherwise none 
of us would have known what to do. 

"Where did he learn so much military?" was the 
question everybody was asking about Wells. We at 
once began to look to him as a marvel of tactical 
knowledge. The fact is this was all the tactics Heber 
knew, and he had just been told that much ! 

The "cook," where we went for our rations, 
wasn't a house at all. It was all outdoors. A couple 
of forked pieces of wood held a horizontal pole, and on 
this were three or four big sheet-iron pails or kettles, 
under which a cordwood fire was burning, with much 
smoke. There was a similar "cook house" at the lower 
end of each company street. As each man filed past he 
was given a tin cup, filled with black coffee (no milk) 
already sweetened, a tin plate filled with beans and 
pork, and a hunk cl bread. We were told to take care 
of our "crockery," and bring them to the cook house 
whenever "rations" were called. 


"Where's the knife and fork and spoon?" John But- 
terworth wanted to know. 

"You're a nice fellow," replied Jake Engle, "to 
think soldiers have forks and spoons. Use your fingers 
— they were made before forks." Neither were there 
any napkins. 

The men took their rations and sat down about their 
tents to eat their first meal as real soldiers. Coffee 
without milk was not very palatable, at the start, but 
from that time on, for many, many months, the major- 
ity of these soldier boys never saw such a thing as milk. 
Milkless coffee isn't so bad when one is once used to it, 
and coffee was the mainstay of the army. What a 
soldier in active service would do without his pint of 
coffee three times a day, is a serious question. 

It was also awkward to eat pork and beans without 
knife, fork or spoon. But with the aid of pocket knives, 
and wooden spoons made out of a sliver from a board, the 
recruits soon learned to eat soldier fashion, and thej- 
soon found out, also, that beans spread upon bread was 
a fair substitute for butter. 

What a picnic it was ! What a free, airy life ! Who 
wouldn't be a soldier? To tell the truth, the novelty of 
the thing was interesting. 

After supper we heard some sort of a commotion up 
by Captain Irish's tent. There was a crowd of men 
standing there, from the midst of which, at frequent 
intervals, there was a momentary glimpse of a man 
being projected a considerable height into the air. It 
was "initiation." 

"Come, Joe, you're next," was the salute I got, and 
before I could remonstrate I was seized bodily and 
thrown headlong upon a big blanket, surrounded by the 
men who were holding it. The blanket hung slack in 
the middle. 

"One! Two! Three! Hip!" 

The men pulled the blanket taut, and up I was pro- 
jected, ten or fifteen feet into the air. Coming down, 
one landed head first or feet first or side\va3 T s, just as it 
might happen, and then, up again ! Three times was 
the ordeal, and the "candidate" was "initiated." 
Every man in the company had to go through it. 


"Now for the captain," cried Hank Van Orden, who 
seemed to be the ringleader. 

"Oh, no," replied Lieutenant Scott, with dignity. 
"The officers are exempt." 

"Guess not," said Hank, and over went Scott into 
the blanket. 

Captain Irish good-naturedly offered no resistance,, 
and he was tossed also. Poor fellow, he little knew 
that in less than a month his dead body would be in 
possession of the enemy in one of the bloodiest battle- 
fields of the war. 

The same "initiation" was being enacted all along 
the line, and as there were seven or eight hundred 
recruits in camp, it may be imagined that it was a lively 

Then the boys gathered around their tents, or the cook 
fire, smoked their pipes, told stories and sang songs, 
until 9 o'clock, when the "tattoo" roll was called and 
half an hour later a few single strokes on the drum indi- 
cated "taps," and lights were ordered out. 

My chum that night was John Butterworth, and 
when he prepared for "bed" he created a yell of laugh- 
ter by saying: 

"Say, boys, I forgot to bring my night shirt." 

The most of us, however, slept in all our clothes, 
except our coats and shoes. With a blanket under us 
and a blanket; over us, and knapsacks for pillows we 
were quite comfortable as to warmth, but goodness, 
how hard the ground was ! It was the first time I had 
ever slept on the ground, and there was an uncomfor- 
table dampness that came from it that was not pleasant, 
even in midsummer. Through the flaps of the tent 
and the ventilator at the top one could see the bright 
stars, and there was a peculiar outdoor "looseness" to 
the sensation that was quite uncanny. 

As for sleeping ! Well, with the cat calls and shouts 
and yells, the snatches of song, and cries of "Get on 
your own side of the bed," and "Give me half of the 
sheet, will you?" and such things, the hullabaloo was 
kept up until long after midnight. And after that the 
snoring began. All sorts of snores. Double bass, 
tenor, baritone. Snores like a grandfather bull frog 


and snores like a sick calf's bleat, Snores that would 
awaken the dead or make the devil laugh. You never 
heard such a miscellaneous job lot of snores in your life. 
But all things have an end, and even the outrageous 
snoring finally produced such a soporific effect that we 
all slept soundly. 


"fall in." 

We were aroused at an outlandishly early hour 
by an indescribable conglomeration of discords outside 
somewhere. All the boys, as they tried to untangle 
their stiffened limbs from the blankets, rubbed their 
eyes in an uncertain, mystified way that was very 

It was a strange feeling. Where were we? What 
noise was that? What makes the bedroom look so mar- 
velously unfamiliar this morning? Are we dreaming? 
Who are all these men lying and stretching about? 
And all in bed with their clothes on — blue clothes. 

Is it a dream? Is the dim remembrance of doing 
something unusual — of entering into a new life — actual 
reality, or have we had the nightmare? Let's see. Did 
we enlist into the army yesterday, or didn't we? The 
other men are kicking off the blankets, reaching for 
their shoes, rubbing their half -opened eyes, and grunting 
and groaning from the stiffness caused by the hard bed 
and damp earth, and again there is that discordant 
racket outside. 

It is the first attempt of the new fifer and drummer 
to sound the reveille — the "get up bell" we were des- 
tined to hear every morning for three years — "unless 
sooner discharged." No wonder such an outrageous 
musical attempt woke us up. It was enough to awaken 
the dead. 

"Reveille— Fall in for roll call." 

It was the voice of Heber Wells, the orderly sergeant. 

"Refillee? Vot'sdot, alretty?" asked John Ick, who 
was destined to become the funniest Dutchman, most 
awkward recruit, unceasing and chronic kicker in the 
company, and yet one of the bravest of soldiers in action. 


Poor fellow, he fell early, pierced by a rebel bullet. 
But John was as ignorant as the rest of us on military 
orders, and "reveille" was something new. 

"I tole you vot dot vash," said he. "Dot vas brek- 

And he got his tin plate and cup, and piled out with 
the crowd. A lot of others were similarly equipped, to 
the intense astonishment of Captain Irish, who had 
turned out to see the first reveille roll call. 

"Fall in — fall in according to size," was the order. 

This meant that the men should get in a line, with 
the tallest man at the head of the class and the shortest 
one at the foot. Hank Van Orden thus stood at the 
right of the line and Sandy Kidd at the left, and the 
captain told us that ever after we were to get ourselves 
together in that shape whenever we heard the order to 
"Fall in." 

The roll was called. It was a sleepy looking crowd 
— 'there were about ninety — and as a matter of fact the 
soldiers were always a sleepy lot at reveille roll call. 
Before dismissing the company, after finding all the 
members ■" present or accounted for,'' Orderly Wells 
picked out ten men to do "police duty." The rest of us 
were for the present dismissed. 

A matutinal ablution is naturally one of the first 
duties of every man. Soldiers are no exception. Then 
we began for the first time to experience the utter inad- 
equacy of the toilet accommodations supplied by Uncle 
Sam to his brave defenders. There were not many 
houses provided with the luxury of a bathroom in those 
days ; but the most of us at least had become used to the 
accommodations of a washbowl and pitcher and a clean 
towel. We hadn't even the towel. The canal at the 
foot of the camp, however, afforded an all-sufficient 
supply of water, and the tails or sleeves of our coats 
served as towels. Johnny Nield had a pocket comb, 
and that was passed around. 

We went up to see hew the new policemen were get- 
ting along — the ten men who had been picked out to do 
"police duty." We naturally supposed that meant to 
stand guard around the camp and look fierce; but it 
wasn't. To "police" a camp means to clean it up. 


You've seen the street department gang with their 
brooms and hoes cleaning the dirt out of the gutters. 
Well, that, in army parlance, is fe' police duty." If a 
real policeman were called upon to perform that "duty" 
he would kick like a steer. Whoever heard of a police- 
man working? 

The new recruits "kicked," too, hut it was no use. 
There was a bookkeeper from one of the mills, two Main 
Street dry goods clerks with soft hands, a printer and a 
cotton manufacturer working for dear life in the "chain 
gang" as thej* were dubbed, and bossed by a sergeant 
who used to sell beer in a Dublin gin mill. Oh, but it 
was galling. 

That was one of the hardest features of army life — to 
fall under the command of an officer who was in every 
way — except for his straps or stripes — your inferior. 
Such men, feeling for the first time the pleasures of 
autocracy, were the most cruel and relentless taskmas- 
ters. But they had to be obeyed. Such was discipline. 
The first duty of a soldier is obedience — no matter if 
your "superior officer" be an ignorant, boorish bully 
you wouldn't have recognized in civil life. My old 
employer had said it was a good thing for me to go into 
the army, because I needed discipline. I would never 
recognize a "boss," and was the most independent 
young American in the United States. That was some- 
thing the army life would cure me of. My old em- 
ployer was right. I soon had the independence knocked 
out of me. I was soon thoroughly "disciplined." But 
in that respect, doubtless, I have since retrograded. 

"Fall in for rations," was the next order, and John 
Ick made another dive for his_ tin plate and cup. He 
was perennially hungry, was John. 

"Itsch 'vail in' ail de times," said he, "but I don'd 
mind him a little ven dot means some tings to eat, ain't 

The breakfast was like the supper the night before, 
with the exception that boiled beef was substituted for 
the pork and beans. Somehow it didn't seem very 
tasty. We missed the customary muffins and chops 
and eggs, and the cream in our coffee. But still it went. 
It had to. It was that or nothing. No sooner was 
breakfast over than it was again : 


"Fall in, Company K!" 

This time it was to pick out a detail for guard duty, 
and the ten men selected were instructed to be ready to 
fall in again a little before 9 o'clock, "fully armed and 
equipped." I escaped this "draft," but with the others 
anxiously awaited the time to see the first "guard 

A little before 9 o'clock a drum beat called out the 
guard detail — and there appeared the ten men "fully 
armed and equipped." They had on everything the 
government had given them. Although a midsummer 
evening, they perspired under their heavy overcoats. 
They had their knapsacks, haversacks and canteens, 
their belts and ammunition boxes and their muskets — ■ 
all ready to go to war. It was a funny sight. Some 
of the knapsacks were perched upon the shoulders like 
the hump of a hunchback, while others hung at the 
bottom of the back, like a "Grecian bend.'' Two of 
the men carried their haversacks in their left hands, as 
if- they were satchels. 

Even the captain had to laugh. He explained to 
them that they only required their blouses and arms, 
and told them to leave their knapsacks, haversacks, and 
canteens in the tents. After some coaching they were 
finally arranged right and formed into line. 

"Now," said Sergeant Wells, "all you have got to 
do is to follow your file leader." 

"Yot vash dot vile leeder, Mr. Wells?" asked John 

"Don't talk while in the ranks. Don't you know 
better than that?" asked Wells, with a comical as- 
sumption of insulted dignity. 

"Dot's all ri-et, Mister Wells. Dot's all riet; but 
how in du.nderwedder we don't know some tings ven 
we don't ask nobotty already?" 

Without deigning to reply the orderly gave the order 
to "right face,." and twirled Hank Van Orden around 
to the right. Then began the command : 

' ' Forward, march ! ' ' 

And taking Hank by the elbow, he led him as he 
would a team of oxen, around the head of the company 
street and toward the place in the middle of the camp 


where a fife was tooting and a drum beating, and an 
already assembled crowd indicated that something was 
going on. The appearance of Company K's guard 
detail on that occasion was like a crowd of political 
heelers marching toward a barroom on the invitation of 
the candidates. There would be just about as much 
military precision in the latter as there was in the 

Here let me explain. The Thirteenth Regiment was 
recruited in Newark, Orange, Belleville, *Montclair, 
Bloomfield, Caldwell, Mill burn, Jersey City and Pater- 
son. There were two companies from Paterson — Com- 
pany C, commanded by Captain Ityerson, and Com- 
pany K, by Captain Irish. Not more than two com- 
panies were from one place, so that to a great degree 
the men were strangers to each other. The extent of 
friendship from previous acquaintance was consequently 
limited, but nine or ten hundred men who were thus 
brought together soon became quite well acquainted 
with each other. 

Ten men from each of the ten companies, one hun- 
dred altogether, had been detailed for guard duty that 
day. The other eight hundred or so gathered around 
as spectators. 

Colonel Carman stood on one side of the field, gor- 
geously attired, with a ferocious look on his face. He 
had already served some time in an official position in 
another regiment, and was regarded as a veteran. Be- 
fore the war Colonel Carman was an humble clerk in 
some New York store. So he was, I understand, after 
the departure of his military glory ; but he has since 
then been honored by being made commissioner in 
charge of the Antietam battlefield. 

But the colonel certainly looked ferocious and brave 
enough that morning to whip the whole rebel army 
alone. A short distance in front of him was Adjutant 
Charles A. Hopkins (now New England agent of the 
Mutual Life Insurance Company, and worth half a 
million, it is said). Now there is always something 
fussy and featherish about an adjutant, and Lieutenant 
Hopkins was no exception; but under his showy ex- 


terior there was as true and brave and sympathetic a 
heart as ever beat against the padded breast of a mili- 
tary officer. 

The adjutant is usually the boss of a guard mount. 
The presence of the colonel, occasionally, is to add im- 
pressiveness and dignity. In actual service his place is 
usually substituted by the red-sashed officer who has 
been detailed as "officer of the day." He is the general 
superintendent and high-cock-a-lorum of the camp for 
the twenty-four hours for which he is appointed. An 
inferior officer, usually a lieutenant, is similarly selected 
as "officer of the guard." 

But the "guard mount" was about to begin, and we 
watched the proceeding with all the eyes we had. 




This chapter does not purpose to be an accurate de- 
scription of the details of military tactics. I will only 
describe the "guard mount" as I then saw it — as it 
would appear to any person for the first time. 

The positions of the principal officers were described 
in the preceding chapter. Down in the field further, 
drawn up in a line, were ten fifers and ten drummers 
playing for dear life. It was the first time they had 
played together, and the orchestral effects were any- 
thing but harmonious. These musicians seemed to be 
the central cluster or nucleus around which the others 
were to gather, like a lot of bees swarming. 

From every company street there marched, or rather 
straggled, a squad of ten soldiers, commanded — perhaps 
I should say led — by a sergeant. The first gang 
marched around until it came to the musicians. Then 
another ten would come along until it reached the tail 
end of the first, and so on, until the whole ten times ten 
were standing in a row or string. 

It would have made an old army officer drop dead to 
see the way the men were carrying their muskets. 
They had had no drill. Half of them had never before 
seen, let alone handled, a rifle. Some carried them on 
one shoulder and some on the other. Here you would 
see a gun held up stiff and straight like a flagstaff, and 
the next man would hold it jauntily in the crook of his 
elbow. The "line" was about as near being straight as 
a horseshoe. Somebody yelled : 


One of the boys who had once served in a hotel office 
was at the point of rushing forward, but he could see no 
counter to run to. No one else stirred. 


"Front!" again commanded the adjutant. But still 
nobody moved, except to look helplessly at his com- 
panion. Many of them thought maybe it was the army 
way of saying grace, or something of that sort. No one 
had ever heard "Front" before. The adjutant became 

"All turn this way, and look at me," shouted the 

"Vy dond you say dod pefore," cried out John Ick. 

"Silence in the ranks. When I say 'Front,' you 
turn to the front, that's all." 

"Dot's all ri-et, Mister Hopkins," replied John Ick. 
"I'se a lookin' at you, don't it?" 

"Silence!" yelled the officer, "or you'll go to the 

"Can't a man say nottings all the time?" murmured 

Poor John ! He was marched off to the guardhouse, 
whatever that meant. None of us knew. It must be 
something awful. 

"Dress up!" 

Not a man stirred. 

"Dress up, I say. Dress to the right!" commanded 
the adjutant, and stepping up to the end of the string 
he looked along the edge and gave the order again: 

"Eight— dress!" 

Every man looked carefully over himself. Every- 
body seemed to have on his right dress ! They were all 
dressed right. They were looking everywhere except 
to the right. 

"What a lot of idiots," shouted Lieutenant Hopkins. 
"Just turn your eyes this way and get into a straight 
line." A general shuffle was the result. There was 
some sort of a commotion in Company K's detachment. 

"What's the matter here?" asked the adjutant, com- 
ing over. "Why don't you get in a straight line?" 

"Can't," replied Davy Harris. "Just look at John 
Snyder's nose!" 

"Silence in the ranks!" 

"See here," asked Lem Smith, "am I to take my 
bearings from Pop Farlow's fat belly, or from that 
spindle-shanked Anderson?' ' 


"Silence in the ranks, or you'll go to the guard- 
house," was the only reply. 

Silence resulted. One man was already in the guard- 
house, and an awful ignorance of what sort of horrible 
torture he might at that moment be undergoing made 
the warning sufficient. 

Finally the adjutant got the men tolerably straight, 
and then the drummers and fifers marched down in 
front of the line, turned around and marched back 
again, playing "When Johnnie Comes Marching Home 
Again" the while. Then the adjutant stepped for- 
ward, turned on his heel, turned to the left, marched 
along to the middle of the parade, turned on his heel to 
the right, marched a few paces toward the colonel, and 
then turned completely around as if on a pivot. He 
gave the order to "Present arms!" 

But no pretense was made of obeying it, inasmuch as 
no one in the ranks knew the difference between present 
arms and a lame leg. But just as if it had all been 
done according to Hoyle, or rathor according to 
Hardee, the adjutant turned around facing the colonel, 
and bringing his sword up to his nose, dropped it with 
a curving sweep, like a farmer with a scythe. The 
adjutant said something to the colonel and the colonel 
said something to the adjutant, and some orders were 
given which no one understood. 

Then with much confusion and trouble the men in the 
line were twisted around into platoons and marched 
past the colonel in about the order of a mob coming out 
of a circus, and then off to the guardhouse. As a mili- 
tary maneuver it was simply atrocious. Had Kaiser 
Wilhelm been there he would have thrown himself into 
the canal with ineffable disgust. But the spectators 
thought it was grand. When the Thirteenth Regiment 
got to the front and the enemy saw what they could do, 
the rebellion would be speedily ended ! Indeed, had the 
Confederates witnessed a guard mount like that they 
would have thought it some new sort of tactics they 
didn't understand, and would doubtless have immedi- 
ately surrendered. 

The guards were put on duty around the camp. In 
the army the men go on guard duty for two hours and 


have a four-hour rest, and then go on again, and so on 
for the twenty -four hours. The duty of the guards was 
to let no one out of the camp, without a pass, and no 
visitors in — except at the gates. 

We fellows who were not on guard were congratula- 
ting ourselves with having nothing to do when suddenly 
there was another drum beat, followed by the order : 

"Fall in, Company K, for drill!" 

The men hastily put on their belts, picked up their 
guns, and ran out to "get into a string," which we had 
learned by this time was the proper thing to do on hear- 
ing the order to "fall in." A sergeant who had served 
three months already and was therefore supposed to 
know all about war, was detailed to instruct us. He 
was an arrogant brute, as such men usually are, and 
gave his orders as if we were slaves. 

Many a man's face flushed at being called "fool," 
"idiot," and worse names, when the sergeant became 
angry with our clumsiness and awkwardness. When 
we started we thought a "file" was something used by 
machinists, a "wheel" was part of the running gear of 
a wagon, and that when the order was to "shoulder 
arms," it meant to hold our guns on our shoulders, in- 
stead of holding them straight up at our sides. It*bad 
been "carry" arms, under the "Hardee" tactics, but 
Casey's revision was just being introduced, and the 
same movement was designated as "shoulder arms." 

But how that relentless sergeant did drill us ! He 
made us handle the guns in different shapes until they 
seemed to weigh half a ton, and our arms ached. And 
he marched us up and down and hither and thither 
until we were completely tired out with the unwonted 
exercise. It was in dog days, too, and the hot clothing 
and thick, scratchy shirts made us perspire until we 
were soaked. Being a soldier wasn't so much fun after 
all. We were glad enough when finally, at noon, we 
were dismissed for our dinner. 

With the exception of soup for the main dish, dinner 
was similar to the other meals. We were beginning to 
get it through our heads that the prospects were bad for 
any very great variety in the menu. But it "went," 
for we were hungry, and our post prandial briar wood 


pipes were hugely enjoyed. Just as we were thinking 
of 'crawling into the tent for a snooze, again came that 
everlasting order : 

"Fall in for drill!" 

This was too much ! What, drill twice a day? We 
would speak to the captain about it. 

But the afternoon drill was worse yet, for it was a 
regimental drill — that is a drill of the entire regiment 
together. The colonel, who had seen some service, 
bossed this job. Now in a regimental drill a fellow has 
to walk about ten times as much as in a company drill, 
and we were soon so tired that we couldn't go any more. 

The colonel saw this, and gave us some more instruc- 
tion in the manual of arms, and for the first time showed 
us how to load the guns. 

"Load in nine times — load." 

Such was the order. We had been served with blank 
cartridges, and were told to simply go through the 
motion of loading. But Sandy Kidd failed to hear this, 
and before he was discovered he had loaded his guns 
nine times — that is, put nine cartridges into the barrel. 
What the nine "times" meant was the nine different 
motions that are necessary in loading a gun according 
to the tactics. During the latter part of the drill the 
colonel thought he would see how the regiment would 
do in an actual shoot. So he marched us around by the 
canal and once more went through the process of "load- 
ing in nine times." 

Then I discovered why Dr. Love had so carefully 
examined our teeth. One of the orders was to "tear 
cartridges. " Now the cartridges of those days were not 
the metallic affairs used at the present time. Breech- 
loading guns had hardly been introduced and our old 
muskets were loaded at the muzzle, like an old-fashioned 
shotgun. The cartridges containing the powder were 
made of paper. It was a thick brown paper, as tough 
as is used in a hardware store. One had to insert the 
end of the cartridge between the teeth and tear it open. 
Nothing but the stoutest teeth could stand this ordeal. 
And, ugh ! how salt and nasty the powder tasted ! 

But we are finally loaded, cocked and primed. In 
order to make a grander effect for the assembled audi- 


ence, we were strung along the towpath of the canal. 
Then the colonel gave the order : 

"Ready! Aim!— Fire!" 

Now I had never shot off a gun in my life. I only 
knew you had to hold it up to the shoulder and pull the 
trigger. When the colonel said "aim" my hands shook 
in a manner that would have made it perfectly safe for 
a man to stand directly in front of the muzzle. When 
the order came to "fire" I shut my eyes tight and pulled 
the trigger ! 


Was I kicked by a mule? A stinging blow on my 
right shoulder nearly knocked me off my feet, and I 
thought my arm was dislocated. For a moment I 
feared I was shot myself. I never knew before that a 
gun "kicked." It was simply the "kick" of the 
musket on being discharged. But it was a surprise 
party for me. 

The first man to "fall in an engagement" in the 
Thirteenth Regiment was Sandy Kidd. When the 
rackety "volley," about as simultaneous as a pack of 
exploding firecrackers, had stopped, there lay Sandy 
Kidd, sprawling on his back at the bottom of the tow- 

He had shot off all the nine cartridges in his gun at 




Before the regimental drill was dismissed, Colonel 
Carman had announced that "dress parade" would be 
dispensed with that afternoon. Goodness, was there 
anything more? Is a soldier'3 work never done? 

No, never. From that time on, during all the years 
of service, whenever in camp, there was that same ever- 
lasting routine of guard mount, and squad or company 
drill in the morning, and a regimental or "battalion" 
drill (as it was mora commonly called) in the afternoon, 
winding up with the perennial dress parade at 4 or 6 
o'clock. A "dress parade" is a guard mount on a 
larger scale, and is the formal display of "the pomp and 
panoply of war." But so many people are familiar 
with "dress parades" that it is unnecessary to describe 

We were awfully tired that night; but we were 
aroused to interest by the announcement that on that 
evening we would "elect our officers." 

What a farce! No one in the army ever has a chance 
to vote for officers. The "election" simply consisted in 
the reading of a pronunciamento or order that Hugh C. 
Irish had been elected captain; James G. Scott, first 
lieutenant, and so on, and that the captain had selected 
"the following sergeants and corporals." And at the 
end of it was "Approved — Ezra A. Carman, Colonel 
Commanding; Charles A. Hopkins, First Lieutenant 
and Adjutant." That is the way we "elected" our 

There was little variation in camp life for several 
days. It was the same old routine of guard mount and 
drill, and "fall in for rations." We began to get used 
to the unwonted exercise and the outdoor air and work 


was hardening the muscles and improving the general 

There was a constant stream of visitors, including 
many ladies; and the latter came around to the tents 
and chatted to "the boys" with an unconventional 
familiarity and sisterly affection utterly unknown in 
ordinary life. This was a new phase of existence that 
was very interesting. They brought us many luxuries, 
and some of the boys received big boxes from home, 
containing pies and cakes and other toothsome things 
that greatly enhanced our bill of fare. And there was 
a continuous round of pranks and practical jokes and 
song singing and amateur entertainments in the even- 
ing, till at last we were constrained to exclaim: "Well, 
this is a picnic!" 

On August 24, 1862, the announcement was made 
that on the following afternoon the Thirteenth Regi- 
ment would be "mustered in." This was something 
new, and created great excitement. 

When a man "enlists ' he, so to speak, gets into his 
coffin. When he is "mustered," Undertaker Uncle 
Sam has put on the lid and screwed it down. When a 
man deserts the service after being "mustered in" he is 

About 3 o'clock the next afternoon the regiment was 
drawn up as if in dress parade. While somewhat im- 
proved in military movements from the four or five days 
drill, yet it was anything but an imposing spectaclo 
from a professional point of view. The line was strag- 
gling and broken and uncertain, and there was a pain- 
ful absence of that self-possessed nonchalance that char- 
acterizes the experienced soldier. But there we stood, 
037 of us — 38 officers and 899 non-commissioned officers 
and privates, at parade rest, with the perspiration 
trickling down our faces and we forbidden to wipe it 

From the knot of officers gathered at the flank of the 
parade stepped forth one more gorgeous, more self- 
possessed, more airish than the others. Ah ! he was a 
man who understood his business! He must be a 
major-general at least ! 

Bah ! The single strip of bullion at the end of his 


shoulder straps indicated that he was nothing but a first 
lieutenant ! And yet he was a First Lieutenant with a 
capital *'L" and a still bigger "F." 

Maybe you don't understand the awful dignity that 
surrounded a "mustering officer," like a dazzling halo! 
As the drum-major of a band is more gorgeous in 
make-up than the colonel of a regiment, so is a muster- 
ing officer more indescribably magnificent in general 
bearing than the commander of the whole army. The 
chief qualification of a mustering officer seemed to be 
his capacity for putting on airs. 

The more airs he could put on the better. No soldier 
ever heard of a plain, unassuming, courteous mustering 
officer. It is his business to be otherwise. 

The irridescent specimen of military grandeur that 
dazzled our eyes and filled our hearts with apprehension, 
as if we were the serfs and he the czar, was, we were 
told, ' ' Louis D. Watkins, First Lieutenant, Fifth United 
States Cavalry." A regular officer. Phew! A West 
Point graduate, perhaps. And a cavalry officer too. 
The cavalry officers always considered themselves so 
much higher than infantry officers. In reality they 
were, in the march — about five feet higher — when 

Behind him was a private soldier with his rifle and 
another carrying the rolls of the regiment, on which 
was every man's name, the color of his eyes and hair, 
his height, complexion, color, age, and "previous con- 
dition of servitude." 

"At-ten-shun!" commanded he, with that peculiar 
inflexion only attainable after considerable service. 

"Hats off!" 

"Hands up!" 

When, after much confusion, it was arranged that 
each man held his hat in his left hand and upheld his 
right, the mustering officer began : 

"Eepeat after me the following oath: I, Louis D. 
Watkins " 

"I, Louis D. Watkins," came the grand chorus from 
the assembled thousand. I don't know how they ever 
came to do it so well in concert. It sounded as if it- 
came from one gigantic throat. 


"No — no — no," interrupted the mustering officer. 
"Each man say his own name. Now, I, John Smith — 
or whatever it may be." 

A low murmur of many names followed, as each man 
pronounced his own, followed by "whatever it may 
be." John Ick was slow of comprehension, and he 
came out behind all the rest, and it made everybody 
laugh to hear his 

"May pe!" 

Lieutenant Watkins pretended not to notice this un- 
necessary addition to the oath, but went on : 

"Do solemnly " 

"Solemnly," chorused the regiment. 

— "Emly," from John Ick. 

"Swear that I will bear — " continued the mustering 

The regiment responded, while loud and husky came 
John Ick with his 


"True faith and allegiance." 

The nine hundred responded on schedule time — all 
but John Ick, who nearly upset the whole business with 
his ringing : 

"Vatty elegance." 

"To the United States of America," continued the 
mustering officer. 

The regiment responded, and so it went on with the 
rest of the oath, viz: 

— '"Against all her enemies whatsoever: That I will 
obey the orders of the President of the United States 
and of the officers appointed over me, according to the 
rules and articles of war. So help me God." 

And John Ick came in at the tail end about three 
words behind as usual. But as if that wasn't enough 
he added something of his own in the shape of a loud 
"Amen." He naturally imagined that anything so 
near like a prayer was not quite complete without an 
"amen" at the end of it. 

The oath, although as ironclad as the whole power 
and force of the United States government can make it, 
isn't in itself very long, but the slow process of repeti- 
tion had necessitated our holding up our hands for what 


seemed an age, and our arms ached. It was with 
intense satisfaction and relief therefore that we received 
the orders : 

' ' Hands down ! Hats on !" 

The pompous mustering officer, with a show of dig- 
nity that would have done credit to a czar or a kaiser, 
then formally and awfully announced, that he, he— 
with a big H, Louis D. Watkins, by the authority with 
which he was vested (and otherwise clothed), then and 
there and here and now did declare that the officers and 
men of the Thirteenth Regiment of New Jersey Volun- 
teers were duly mustered into the service of the United 
States, to serve for the period of three years unless 
sooner discharged. 

The nail was clinched. 

The colonel then stepped forward and ordered the 
officers to approach, which they did, and when standing 
in front of him in a tolerably straight line, he addressed 
them in a few words that the rest of us could not hear. 
As the officers came back to lead their companies to 
their streets, something on their faces told us all that 
there was something unusually important on hand. 

There was. Before the companies were dismissed 
the captain informed the men that the situation of 
affairs at Washington was so precarious that the presi- 
dent had ordered the Thirteenth Regiment to come on 
at once. Similar orders had been sent to every regi- 
ment in the country in process of formation. 

"Captain," said one of the men, "we were to have a 
furlough before we started ; we wanted to take our citi- 
zens' suits back home and bid our families good-by, and 
we want to get a few articles to take along with us. 
Wasn't this understood?" 

"Yes," replied Captain Irish; "but in times of war 
any programme may be changed and all that we have 
to do is to obey orders. ' ' 

"Is that fair?" asked John Snyder. 

"Don't talk in the ranks," said the captain. 

"No, you," said John Ick knowingly, "dond you talk 
by the ranks, or you'll go by the garthous; ven you 
carry a stick of dot ^ord wood up and down for an hour, 
alreaty, you don talk no more by the ranks, by gum." 


"Silence!" shouted the captain. 

"Gimntinney," said Ick, sotto voce, "I pelief I vas 
talking mine own selluff, and didn't know it." 

The recruits broke ranks with much kicking. They 
had fully expected a furlough before going to the front. 
There were ominous whispers and knowing winks that 
night. Something was up. 

In the morning there were not a dozen men in camp. 
Even the guards had disappeared, leaving their guns 
sticking bayonet down, in the ground. 

Practically the entire regiment had deserted! 

What an inglorious end to our career as soldiers! 
And not mustered in half a day yet. 

How it all happened the next chapter will relate. 




As stated in the preceding chapter, the entire Thir- 
teenth Regiment of New Jersey Volunteers had deserted, 
almost in a body, at the very first intimation of active 
service. Not that they were like that famous character : 

"First in peace, last in war." 

Nor even like that historical militia organization 
whose first by-law read : 

"Resolved, that in case of war, riot or other unpleas- 
ant disturbance, this company immediately disbands." 

No, it wasn't that. It wasn't cowardice. The boys 
simply "wanted to go home." (They wanted to go 
home many another time before their three years were 
up, but didn't have the opportunity.) And we believe 
it is an historical fact that this was the only instance 
during the war where eight or nine hundred men de- 
serted and were not only not punished, but were not 
even reprimanded. 

It could hardly be called desertion. The boys simply 
wanted to go home, and they went. They could hardly 
be blamed. All had enlisted and hurried off to camp 
with quite a distinct understanding that they should 
have a furlough long enough to fix up things at home, 
and this idea of being so suddenly and unceremoniously 
projected to the very scene of conflict completely upset 

The regiment deserted, so to speak, in squads. We 
had previously arranged our respective coteries; 
"Davy" Harris, "Pop" Snyder and I were one of the 
groups arranged in trios, and along toward midnight 
we marched out of camp. One of Company C's men 
was on guard at the post we had to pass. It did not 


take him long to stick his bayonet in the ground and 
join us. 

We took the towpath and walked up to Paterson 
along the canal bank, arriving there at 4 or 5 o'clock in 
the evening. It took about twenty-four hours to 
arrange our affairs and say good- by to our friends for 
the last time. It didn't take me long to settle up my 
affairs. I deposited with a relative the new suit of 
clothes I had just bought, and wrote a letter to my 
father, who lived in another State, that I had enlisted. 

Let me tell you about that suit of clothes. It was in 
the latest fashion. The cost was of a Prince Albert 
pattern, but it came down to about halfway between 
the knees and heels. It was black and white, in 
squares, each one of the squares being as big as the 
square of a checkerboard. The length of the coat was 
something like the dude fashion of the present time. 
But during the four years I was away fashions had 
changed to plain, dark colors, and the coat tail had been 
abbreviated. Had I appeared on the streets in that suit 
after the war, I would have been mobbed. 

The changes in fashions are so gradual that they are 
hardly noticed. But bury .yourself, mentally, for four 
years, and the change will be startling. We think 
nothing of the absurd wings the ladies wear now, but 
had that ridiculous fashion been projected upon us in 
all its ugliness without an evolutionary endurance — 
like cutting off a dog's tail by inches — we should have 
been startled, to say the least. So that stylish suit, 
which had cost me twenty-one weeks' wages, was 
utterly useless after the war was over. 

But this is a digression. I didn't have to save my 
money for clothes now. Uncle Sam furnished them. 
As the late Tune Van Iderstine used to say, there was 
"Plenty for to eat (usually) plenty for to drink (that is, 
soft drinks) and nothing for to pay." Besides all this 
we were paid the munificent wages of thirteen dollars a 
month — which usually went to sutler or poker, of 
which more anon. 

We straggled back to camp, and in two days every 
man was back again. We expected to be at least 
scolded, if not actually punished; but not a word was 
said to us about our "desertion." 


There was a more serious look on the men's faces this 
time than there was the first time they left home. The 
farewell had been more sorrowful, for it was known to 
be the last time they would meet their loved ones for 
many months— perhaps years — perhaps forever. Some- 
how it had at first been a sort of picnic— a few days' , 
excursion. Now we began to realize that it really 
"meant business." 

But a soldier's downheartedness doesn't last long. 
We were kept busy with the final arrangements. We 
"men" expected to be ordered to start every moment. 
We were kept in ignorance, in accordance with "army 
discipline." Only the officers knew we were not to 
start before Sunda}'. 

On Friday we went through that pleasant and delusive 
experience that all regiments went through. We were 
presented with a flag by the ladies. Flag presentations 
were too common in those days to indulge in silk. It 
was an ordinary everyday bunting flag. A clergyman 
made the speech for the ladies and the colonel responded 
for the regiment. 

I think I felt then my first thrill of patriotism. The 
stars and stripes never before looked as they did then. 
As the breeze rippled through the folds it seemed as if a 
patriotic luster emanated from the ensign, and a vague 
idea that I would some clay see that flag dimly outlined 
through the smoke and fire of battle made the blood 
jump through my veins. 

And the ladies, God bless them! They looked so 
pretty and sweet, so loyal and yet so tender, that it 
aroused one's manhood to a sense of duty in defending 
them. I never was a hero. I was naturally a coward. 
But I felt brave just then and mentally resolved that I 
would never do aught to be ashamed of. 

A similar feeling must have pervaded the entire regi- 
ment, for it gave vent to loud and enthusiastic cheers at 
the conclusion of the presentation. 

"I never saw the flag look so beautiful as it did to- 
day," said John Stansfield, as he unbuckled his belt. 

"Dott all ri-et, you," said John Ick. "But it dond 
look so beautiful one of dese daj T s, I dond tink. I vash 
thinking dot plue is like how plue we vill all pe pefore 


ve gits home alretty, and de ret stripes — dot vash plood. 
We vas all going to ein schlaughter haus." 

Despite this sanguinary prediction, Ick's remarks 
created a laugh, and from that time on, forever after- 
ward, he was called ' ' Slaughter House Ike. ' ' 

On Friday it began to look like business; about one 
hundred men were yet missing and patrols were sent 
out to capture them, wherever found, and bring them 
in. The announcement in the Newark Advertiser that 
the Thirteenth was about to start brought crowds of 
visitors to camp, a large proportion of them being 

On Saturday evening, August 30, 1862, the boys re- 
ceived word that they would start the next (Sunday) 
morning for the front ! 

Immediately the camp became a scene of great ex- 
citement and hilariousness. 




When "reveille" sounded in Camp Frelinghuysen on 
Sunday morning, August 31, 1862, no one was awak- 
ened. Everybody was already up and filled with ex- 
citement over the approaching departure for "the 
front." A busy scene was enacted. Everybody was 
packing up. The men were wondering how to get into 
their knapsacks besides the clothing Uncle Sam pro- 
vided them, such things as canned preserves, towels, 
looking-glasses, shaving outfits and a hundred and one 
other things from loving ones at home — even to em- 
broidered slippers! 

It was no go. The knapsack would scarcely hold the 
regular outfit, let alone other things. The parsimony 
of the government in providing such limited "trunks" 
was vigorously criticized, little knowing that before 
long we should be more than convinced that the knap- 
sacks were altogether too large and too heavy. 

But the problem was solved by packing the superflu- 
ous luxuries into barrels and boxes. We had a vague 
idea that they would come along with the baggage. 
Innocent souls that we were. Somebody must have had 
a feast. We never saw those things again. 

We filled our haversacks with "grub" from the 
"cook house" and our canteens with water from the 
canal, and when everything was in readiness we tried 
on our "things." 

Phew ! Here was another thing we hadn't counted 
upon. That we were to be "pack mules" had never 
entered our heads. Contemplate the array : 

First, our thick clothes (with the scratchy shirt and 


stockings); then a broad leather belt extending from 
the right shoulder to the left hip ; then a body belt, upon 
which was a leather percussion cap box on the front 
and a heavy cartridge box on the right hip — a box con- 
taining forty rounds of ball cartridges in a tin case — 
the whole weighing several pounds. Then there was 
the bulgy haversack, on the right hip, hanging by a 
strap from the left shoulder, while on the reverse side was 
the canteen, suspended from a strap which ran over the 
right shoulder. Then came the knapsack, like the 
hump on Pilgrim's back, hanging from straps over both 
shoulders and steadied by another strap that extended 
over the breast. On the equipments were brass eagles 
and brass plates with "U. S," upon them. The knap- 
sack was packed as full as it could be, and in straps on 
the top were the rubber and woolen blankets tightly 
rolled, while the overcoat was strapped to the back. 

This was "heavy marching order." Add the rifle, 
weighing about nine pounds, and you have the complete 
soldier. All you can see is his face and legs, and a lot 
of straps and bundles and bags with a gleaming bayonet 
sticking up alongside the right shoulder. Thus arrayed 
and equipped, the load that a soldier had to carry was 
about sixty pounds. Imagine yourself walking thirty 
miles a day and carrying sixty pounds of baggage. 

A momentary trial of this load was enough. Every 
man threw off his knapsack completely discouraged. 

We were confronted with a condition utterly unfore- 
seen. Had there been an opportunity to test this lay- 
out in Captain Irish's recruiting office, the probability 
is that not a single man would have enlisted! 

Poor John Ick expressed the sentiment of Company K 
when he threw his knapsack down on the ground and 
exclaimed : 

"Mine gott, poys. Dot vash de camel vot proke de 
straw's pack. I vash going heim. I don'd vant to be 
a soldier sometimes any more, alretty. ' ' 

But it was too late to go home now. We were going 
away from home, and the evidences of our departure 
were too painfully apparent all around us. 

Solemn-faced men were embracing and kissing crying 
women and children all over the camp, and even some 


of the men were crying, not so much, perhaps, on their 
own account, as from sympathy with the really be- 
reaved wives, mothers and daughters. No man likes to 
see a woman cry, but under ordinary conditions it 
affects different men in different ways. A woman's 
tears, to some men, is a signal for immediate capitula- 
tion. To others it has an irresistibly irritating effect. 
Bat when a woman cries from pure grief — and not from 
petulance, anger or hysteria — then it strikes a sympa- 
thetic chord in the male breast, and he whose eyes are 
not moist under such circumstances is a brute. In the 
economy of nature it is only a brute that cannot laugh 
or cry. 

So it was not unmanly to see great, strong men weep, 
because their wives, their mothers, their sweethearts 
wept. No one knew when they should meet again. 
Perhaps never. To some, it was never. 

But there is no time for long-drawn-out sentiment in 
war. The final farewells were terminated by the order 

"Fall in!" 

In a short time the regiment was formed and the 
order was given to march. A wild huzza arose from 
several thousand throats as the Thirteenth New Jersey 
filed out of the entrance to Camp Frelinghirysen, which 
the soldiers were to see for the last time. The regiment 
was marched down through Orange Street to Broad, 
followed by an immense crowd of people. It was a 
Sunday, but it was totally unlike an ordinary Sunday 
in Newark, for the whole city was out as if on a holi- 

A short halt was made at Washington Park, for a 
little rest. And "green" troops that we were, we 
greatly needed it. The day was atrociously hot. The 
sun poured down its pitiless rays until the backs of our 
necks were blistered. The straps from our knapsacks 
and accouterments had begun to cut into the uncal- 
loused flesh of our shoulders, and the awful load we 
carried fatigued us greatly. The cobble stones with 
which Broad Street was then paved seemed unnaturally 
high, round and uneven. 


We were marched to the Chestnut Street depot, where 
the train was supposed to be ready. It wasn't. No 
one ever knew of an army train being on time. It was 
a special, made up of the cheapest, dirtiest, oldest cars 
of the road — "The New Jersey Railroad and Transpor- 
tation Company" — a part of the "Camden and Amboy" 
system. The "Pennsylvania" was as yet unheard of — 
at least in New Jersey. 

There were more farewells. Venders of knickknacks, 
and particularly of cool drinks, did a thriving business. 
A milkman came along, and soon his cans were empty. 
As my father handed me an overflowing glass of milk, 
I loosed upon his face for the last time. Before the 
war was ended he had given his life to his country. 

It was a solemn crowd. The first boisterousness had 
disappeared. The sorrowful, tearful farewells had a 
depressing effect. The news from the front was not 
cheerful. Even at that moment a great battle was in 
progress, and not very many miles from Washington. 

And yet there were laughable scenes. I will tell you 
one. It relates to James O. Smith, afterward connected 
with the New York Commercial Advertiser. Smith 
was a Newark boy, a jolly fellow, as he is to this day. 
He is one of those men who never grow old. Well, 
Smith's mother and his best girl and her mother were 
looking around for Jim to bid him a last good-by, and 
Jim was watching for their expected appearance. Just 
then a beautiful little German girl came up, and in- 
tently gazing upon Smith for a moment, stepped up 
and asked : 

"Vas you going to go avay?" 

"Yes," answered Jim, "I am going to the front." 

"Yell," answered the little German girl, "I vas so 

And thereupon she put her hands on Smith's shoul- 
ders, and leaning her face down upon them, began to 
cry as ifher heart would break. 

Now James O. Smith said then, and he says yet, that 
he would pledge his word of honor as a man, as a gen- 
tleman and as a soldier, that never in the whole course 
of his life had he ever laid eyes on that pretty little 
German girl before, But imagine his predicament 


when, just at that particular moment, up stepped his 
own, his genuine best girl, with her mother! 

And before Jim could explain the truth the order 
was received to board the the train. 

With a yell, a hurrah and a general racket the mem- 
bers of the Thirteenth climbed upon the cars. E very- 
window was closely shut, and the air was stifling. As 
usual, the windows were stuck fast and could not be 
budged. Then, as if seized with the inspiration that a 
soldier's duty was to destroy, smash went every window 
in every one of the fourteen or fifteen cars composing 
the "special" train. It was done with the butt ends of 
the rifles. There was plenty of air after that. The 
officers tried to expostulate, but it was too late. 

It took a long time to get on the "baggage" and other 
things necessary and in the meanwhile the boys were 
chatting through the broken glass windows with their 
friends outside. Jim Smith was apparently having 
much difficulty in convincing his real girl that his en- 
counter with that pretty little German girl was only an 
accidental meeting. Whether he succeeded in putting 
himself right no one ever knew. 

A long blast of the whistle. A last, superfluous cry 
of "all aboard.'* A slight movement of the train. We 
were off. 

"Hurrah for the Thirteenth Regiment!" said some 
one in the crowd. A wild hurrah from six thousand 
throats arose in the torrid atmosphere of that hot Sun- 
day noon of August 31, 1862. 

"Hurrah for the ladies of Newark!" shouted a sol- 
dier. And the cars quivered with the shout. 

The people shouted again in chorus, and the air was 
filled with Godsends and "good-by, Johns" and "good- 
b} r , Bills," while outside the cars pandemonium reigned 

And thus it was, with a whoop and a shout, that the 
Thirteenth Regiment of New Jersey Volunteers started 
off for that mysterious, that awful, that unknown desti- 
nation comprehensively termed "The Front." 

Alas ! If some of them had known what they had to 
go through ere they again saw the city of Newark, they 
would have felt disposed to have thrown themselves 
under the car wheels and been crushed to jelly. 




Those who have been on a target excursion know 
what sort of a scene is enacted on the cars going to and 
returning from a day's pleasure. I can liken that 
journey of the Thirteenth Regiment from Newark to 
Philadelphia, to nothing but a gigantic excursion. Per- 
haps there was the more indulgence in boisterousness as 
a sort of offset to the gloomy features of the farewell. 
All the songs that the boj T s knew, and some that they 
didn't know, were sung, and when the supply was ex- 
hausted they were sung over again. There were anec- 
dotes and stories told, practical jokes perpetrated, and 
whenever any one began to look sober and solemn he 
was selected as a victim. 

It seemed as if we had cut loose from everything, as 
it were — from the world, the conventional routine of 
life, from restraining influences, from civilization. 
And so it was to a greater extent than we knew then, 
for the fact must be told that away from the influence 
of society, of woman, man becomes a brute. He loses 
all the little niceties and amenities of humanity and 
quickly deteriorates into a savage. Another proof of 
Darwinism. Who knows, were we all turned out into 
the woods, how long it would be before tails began to 
sprout ! 

No such philosophical turn, however, entered the minds 
of the boisterous crowd that kept up the racket all the 
way to the southern boundaries of the State. The train 
went through Trenton and Bordentown, and entered 
Philadelphia via Camden. It was about dusk when we 
crossed the Delaware in ferry boats that sailed between 
the two halves of Smith's Island, and were at last in 
the city of Brotherly Love. 


' ' Philadelphia. " " Brotherly Love. ' ' 

How sweet are the memories that hover around these 
names to every old soldier. No city loved the soldier 
more, or did more for the soldier, than Philadelphia. 
Every building large enough was already an hospital. 
Every fire engine had its ambulance, in the gorgeous 
decoration of which vehicles the different companies 
vied with each other until their ingenuity for something 
more handsome was exhausted. 

One of the institutions of Philadelphia was "The 
Soldiers' Rest." It was a large structure, as big as the 
train shed at a railroad terminus. When a new regi- 
ment passed through the city on the way to the front, 
it was provided with a meal little short of a banquet. 
The men were seated at tables provided with table 
cloths and crockery — real crockery, not tinware. The 
soldiers were waited upon by young ladies, pretty ones 

"Oh, my jimminey, put I vas glad I come to de 
war!" enthusiastically exclaimed John Ick. 

John expressed the sentiment of all of us. We began 
to think that, if the further south we went the better we 
fared, by the time we reached the front we would have 
a regular picnic. Alas, we didn't stop to remember 
that the last thing done to a Thanksgiving turkey is to 
gorge him with chestnuts. 

But, seriously, the old soldier will never forget Phila- 
delphia hospitality. But it was the jumping off place. 
Between the City of Brotherly Love and Baltimore 
there was a gap, a chasm. For right there was located 
somewhere the dividing line, on one side of which a sol- 
dier was considered a patriot, a gentleman, and on the 
other side regarded merely as a soulless machine. 

We bade adieu to Philadelphia late that night with a 
salvo of cheers. 

Alas for human consistency. The last man to get 
on the cars was Jim Smith. In fact he came near being 
left in consequence of his lingering flirtation with a 
pretty Philadelphia girl. And so soon after his en- 
counter with his own true love — and that beautiful 
little German girl. 

The ride to Baltimore was through the night, At; 


Havre de Grace the cars in those days crossed on a big 
ferryboat. There were no bridges yet. The switches 
were choked with troop-laden trains, and we had to 
wait three hours for our turn on the ferry-boat. And, 
by the way, it was the first time for nearly all of us to 
see a locomotive and train cross a wide river on a boat. 
It was morning when we reached Baltimore. Here we 
had breakfast. 

Breakfast? Ugh ! 

We had passed the "dividing line." We were in a 
State only semiloyal. Indeed bloody riots had occurred 
in the streets of Baltimore, caused by rebel sympathizers 
attacking passing regiments. As we disembarked we 
were quietly ordered to load our rifles — with bullets ! 
It began to look like business. 

But that breakfast ! It was in a shed. The coffee 
was black and nasty — about as much flavor to it as mud. 
We had soft bread that was slack-baked — half -dough. 
And the meat! We were formally introduced to "salt 

"Vot sort of meat you calls that?" asked the irre- 
pressible John lck, who wanted to know everything. 
The waiter was a soldier who had seen some service. 

"Salt junk," replied he. 

"Salt yunk. Vot vas dot, alretty?" asked John. 
"Dot looks like old dried -up liverworst." 

John attempted to take a mouthful. There were no 
knives or forks, and he held it in his hand. It was 
tougher than sole leather. It was what Rider Haggard 
would call "biltong." 

"Ugh!" exclaimed John, spitting out the salty stuff 
and pushing the unsavory mess away from him. ' ' Take 
it avay. Bring me some peefsteaks." 

"Eat that or nothing," said the soldier. 

"I no eat dot," replied lck angrily. "You vas ein 
shysterpoop. You vas a old seseshel, and py gimmeny 
I can lick you quicker'n " 

John had [got up to fight. Sergeant Wells came to 
see what the disturbance was about. 

"Dot old schweinigel, Mister Wells, he told me to 
eat dot or nothing. I doand like dot, alretty. Look by 
dot meat, dot — vot he callem — salt yunk. Und ven I 


ask him to pring me some peefsteaks, he tole me to eat 
dot or nothing, ain't it." 

"You must keep quiet, John," said Wells. "That's 
the regulation army food." 

"Idon'd vant no reggellashen grub, I vanfrsome peef- 
steaks, dot's vat I vant." 

"There's no beefsteak here, John. You keep quiet, 
or you'll get in trouble." 

"I'll go straight heim, dot's vot I vill." 

"Keep still." 

"Vait vounce till I get you outside, you old pumper- 
nickel," shouted the irate Ick, shaking his fist across 
the table. Then he quieted down, rather to everybody's 

John Ick only expressed the feelings of the others. 
Oh, for a good, tender, juicy beefsteak. Salt horse, 
muddy coffee and black bread ! What a menu ! The 
coffee was served in tin cups. The bread and meat 
were laid on the bare board that served as a table and 
which had evidently not been washed since it was made. 

The "Soldiers' Retreat," as this inhospitable place 
was called, was near the depot. We were compelled to 
sit or stand around there all day. Armed guards pre- 
vented our going out "to see the town." We had to 
take our dinner and supper — both of which were similar 
to the breakfast — in that miserable place. About dark 
we were told that the train was ready. 

And what a train ! Hitherto we had traveled in pas- 
senger cars, poor though the}' were. Now we were 
piled into old freight cars. We were getting to a part 
of the country where war was war and a soldier noth- 
ing more than an animated piece of the machinery of 
war. It was simply "anyway to get there," now. 
Rough board seats were built across the cars and we 
were huddled in like so many sheep. Auger holes 
bored through the sides afforded what little ventilation 
there was. As it was, we were nearly stifled. 

With a series of stops and jerks as the bumpers of 
the old-fashioned coupled freight cars jammed together, 
we passed a miserable, restless, sleepless six hours, dur- 
ing which the rebels, the army, the government, the 
railroad, the officers and everything else were unspar- 


ingly anathematized, and we kicked ourselves that we 
were ever such fools as to enlist. Only for the irresist- 
ibly comical vigor of the curses of John Ick, which 
somewhat amused us, we would have died. 

Washington ! 

We arrived at last. Our first impressions of the 
great capital were anything but pleasant. It was in 
the middle of the night. We were marched through 
and over a lot of switches and sidings, and finally 
entered what seemed to be a large freight house. Here 
we spread our blankets and lay down. We were so 
tired out that we couldn't help sleeping soundly. 

I was awakened early, as were my comrades. We 
found that the place was another of those "Soldiers' 
Retreats." The breakfast was served a la Baltimore. 
After breakfast I obtained permission to be absent from 
camp for two hours and with three or four comrades 
went to see that Mecca of every true American, the 
capitol building. 

The capitol was scarcely like what it is now. The 
grounds were in a state of chaos. The dome was but 
partially completed; on its top was a gigantic derrick, 
just as the workmen left it when the government had 
other calls for its money than erecting marble buildings 
and glass domes. 

I climbed up into the rotunda, that was compara- 
tively finished — partially in the same shape as now, 
except that only a portion of the pictures were painted 
— those pictures that subsequently became so familiar 
on the back of the national currency. 

With opened-mouthed wonder, and mind filled with 
historical recollections thus so plainly brought face to 
face, I was gazing up toward the unfinished dome, 
when I felt a hearty slap on my shoulder. 

"Good-morning, my boy!" 

I turned to look. I was almost paralyzed. It seemed 
as if the dead had come to life. Did the reader ever ex- 
perience the sensation of meeting for the first time some 
great man whose picture was as familiar as a dining- 
room clock? It seems as if you had encountered an 

Mind you, it was 6 o'clock in the morning. I was 


"only a private." But there at that early hour, stand- 
ing in front of me, was a tall, gaunt figure whose feat- 
ures were familiar to every man and woman, every boy 
and girl, in the country. 

It was no less a personage than Abraham Lincoln, 
the President of the United States ! 


president and private. 

President Lincoln! 

Now any one who has been in the army knows that it 
is a rather extraordinary thing for a mere private soldier 
to come face to face with the President of the United 
States, the great commander of the whole army and 
navy. And it was more extraordinary that such an 
encounter should occur almost at the moment the afore- 
said private soldier arrived in Washington — and at 6 
o'clock in the morning at that. 

I had, of course, never seen Lincoln before, but his 
face was as familiar through popular portraits as Gen- 
eral Grant's subsequently was. Besides hadn't I, in 
the fall of '60, fed into the press at the Guardian office 
over forty thousand election tickets bearing the picture 
of Abraham Lincoln? 

There he stood, tall, gaunt, pale, in a somber suit of 
black. His face wore an anxious look that accentuated 
that familiar wart on his cheek. And he was indeed 
anxious. The rebels were, so to speak, almost at the 
very gates of the national capital. There wasn't much 
sleep for anybody. The president had hurriedly tele- 
graphed for every available volunteer. He was on 
hand to see how many had come. He was like a 
boy who cannot wait for daylight on Christmas 
morning, but surreptitiously gets up in his nightshirt 
to take a glance at his stocking by the mantelpiece. 
This explains why President Lincoln, with one or 
two other men — I don't know who they were — 
was at the capitol so early that Monday morning, Sep- 
tember 1, 1862. 

"Good -morning, my boy," said he as I turned to see 
who had slapped me so familiarly on the shoulder. 


And as I turned and instantly recognized him, as just 
explained, I was almost paralyzed with amazement, I 
might say, terror. Who wouldn't be under the cir- 

u G-g-good- morning," I stammered, "are — aren't you 
the p-p-president?" 

''Yes, my hoy," said he, encouragingly, seeing my 
embarrassment, and taking me kindly by the hand, as 
a grave smile passed over his pale face. "Yes, I am 
the president — the president of a distressed country. 
We want you now, my lad, and a good many like you. 
You are from New Jersey?" 

"Y-y-yes, sir." 

"The Thirteenth New Jersey?" 

"Yes, sir," I answered, the surprise that he should 
know the number of my regiment somewhat over- 
shadowing my embarrassment. 

"Who is your colonel?'' he asked. 

"Colonel Carman." 

"Oh, yes, I remember," said Mr. Lincoln. 

And that he should know or remember the name of 
our colonel, when there were so many colonels and regi- 
ments gave me another surprise. 

"How sti'ong is your regiment?" 

"About nine hundred, I believe, sir." 

"Are there any more troops on the way?" 

"Yes, sir; lots of them; but I don't know how many, 

"You don't know where they are from, I suppose?" 

"No, sir," I replied, "but I heard some of them call- 
ing each other 'Hoosiers' and 'Suckers,' so that I sup- 
pose they are from Indiana and Illinois." 

The president laughed, and a quizzical look passed 
over his face as he asked : 

"So they call the men from Illinois 'suckers, ' do 

"Yes, sir," I replied, proud of my knowledge of 
State nomenclature. 

"Well, you know I'm from Illinois?" 

I thought I would sink through the marble floor of 
the rotunda. 

"Oh — oh — M-m-mister President," I stammered, 


while I felt the hot blood rushing to the roots of my 
hair, "I d-d-didn't mean " 

"That's all right, my boy," he said, with a reassur- 
ing smile. "I was only joking." 

I had of course heard a good deal about "Abe" Lin- 
coln's jokes; but I never thought he would work one 
on me. I didn't laugh at it a little bit — at least not 
just then. 

Mr. Lincoln then asked my name, residence and oc- 
cupation, and seemed to take a remarkable interest in 
an obscure stranger — nothing but a common private. 
He took my hand for a good- by, when I reminded him 
that there were several other Jersey boys standing be- 
hind me, who would no doubt feel honored to shake 
hands with the President of the United States. 

"I did not intend to miss them," said Mr. Lincoln. 
"Every soldier is my friend and my brother. We are 
all soldiers now, in a common cause. God bless you 

Then he shook hands and said a pleasant word to 
every blue-coated recruit in the rotunda. A couple of 
distinguished-looking officers came in and interrupted 
proceedings, and after a word or so with them he started 
off in their company. We followed him to the top of 
the then unfinished eastern stairway, down which he 
went and walked over toward the old Capitol Prison. 

The familiar, friendly way in which the President 
had greeted us had captivated us entirely. The mag- 
nificent, though unfinished capitol building had no 
attractions for us after that. We had seen and spoken 
to a real, live president, and from that moment every 
one of us felt like giving his life, if necessary, in defense 
of a country with such a ruler. There is that in every 
citizen that enhances his loyalty at the sight of his ruler's 

We hurried back to the "Retreat" to tell of our ad- 
venture. Every word of that conversation was im- 
pressed on my mind and it is there to-day as fresh as it 
was on the day it took place. Of course it created a 
sensation among my comrades. We told it to Com- 
pany K, and then Captain Irish sent for us and we had 
to repeat it to him. Then we received a message from 


the colonel, and were required to relate it all over again 
for his information. 

"The boys who talked with the president" were the 
heroes of the day. As for myself I think I grew about 
two inches taller. I thought I ought to be promoted 
at once, and imagined the colonel would make me a 
corporal at least. But he didn't. 

I met President Lincoln personally several times after 
that. I would have felt sad just then had I known that 
the last service I should be called upon to render him 
would be to stand guard over Abraham Lincoln's mur- 
dered body. I did. 

I was soon brought down from my sublime height of 
imaginary importance by hearing Sergeant Heber 
Wells' order: 

"Fall in, boys. We're ordered to go over to Virginia 
at once." 




There was a good deal of humbug and mild decep- 
tion in the army, as ever} r where else, and one example 
is the way in which the innocent credulity of nearly 
every volunteer was played upon. Probably there never 
was an Eastern regiment that did not start out with a 
sort of understanding, either tacit or expressed, that it 
was to be specially favored. It was generall}' to the effect 
that the colonel had "a pull" with the powers that were, 
and that that particular regiment, instead of long 
marches and hard fighting, was to be detailed for guard 
duty at Washington or some similar snap, relieving 
some other regiment of more experience. 

Such an impression prevailed in the Thirteenth Regi- 
ment, aad there seemed to be some ground for it, for 
surely the government would not send to the front a 
lot of men who had had scarcely any drilling and the 
most of the members of which hardly knew how to load 
aud fire a gun. But all this dreamy, pic-nicky prospect 
was scattered to the four winds by the peremptory order 
to get ready to march over into Virginia. 

'"Dot is a shame," exclaimed the irrepressible John 
Ick. "I'll no go. Dose fellers don't get me by no 
schlaughter-haus, py hooky." 

"Oh, you're always a-croakin' ! ye cranky old Dutch- 
man," retorted Reddy Mahar; "shut up wid ye?" 

"Whose a granky old Deutschman?" 'answered Ick 
angrily, "you are a old Irish red head, dot's vat you 
vash, und I don't care, needer." 

"Ye're afraid, that's phwat ye are,^ said Reddy. 

"You vash anudder, alretty." 

"Ye're a coward, ye spalpeen." 

"Whose a gowyard, Irish? Don' you gall me dot 
py jimminy," 


"That's phwat ye are," reiterated Reddy, "always 
prating about slaughter house and sich. Ye must ha' 
been dhrunk when ye 'listed, or ye wouldn't been here." 

"You vas von liar." 

Reddy dropped his knapsack and went for "Slaughter 
House" Ick. The latter had got his arm twisted up 
in the strap of his knapsack somehow, and was caught 
at a disadvantage. He was helpless and could not 
parry the blow that Reddy landed between his eyes. 
Ick, handicapped as he was, threw himself bodily upon 
Reddy, and the two went down together. In falling 
the two belligerents tumbled against Sandy Kidd and 
the three went down into a heap. Then the others 
gathered around to witness an exceedingly lively 
rough-and-tumble fight. Hank Van Orden and some 
others jumped in to interfere and for a moment it re- 
sembled a riot. 

Captain Irish rushed up to the scene, furious. 1 It was 
the first case of disorder that had occurred in the regi- 
ment, and he regarded it as an ineffable disgrace to 
Company K. He was too angry to listen to details, 
and ordered under arrest not only Ick and Mahar, but 
Van Orden and Kidd as well, in spite of the latter's 
protests. The two innocent men were subsequently 
released, but Ick and Mahar had to carry two muskets 
for the rest of the day as a punishment. And any old 
soldier will tell you that it is no fun to carry two heavy 
rifles, in addition to all the legitimate baggage of a 

When the matter was reported to Colonel Carman 
he laconically remarked : 

"They'll get over that nonsense. They'll have all 
the fighting they want before they are home again, I 
guess. ' ' 

"But you can put down the fact, colonel," replied 
Lieutenant Scott, "that Company K was the first in a 

The colonel smiled, shifted his "chew," and strode 
away. Soon after w T e were on the march; 

Our orders were to proceed to "Fort Ward," wher- 
ever that might be. None of us knew, of course, except 
that it was over in "Old Varginny." We marched 


through some back streets of the capital city until we 
came to the famous "Long Bridge." And let me say 
that Washington was not then the magnificent city that 
it is now. The streets were paved with cobble stones 
or were mere dirt — not with the asphalt of to-day. 
What is now the beautiful park back of the White 
House was then nothing but a swamp. The Wash- 
ington monument was not half completed. Work had 
been stopped on it for a great many years. Visitors to 
the capital now can tell its height then by the dirty ap- 
pearance of the stone on the lower half. The upper and 
more recently completed part looks whiter and cleaner. 

We crossed the Long Bridge and during the afternoon 
made our first foot tracks in the dusty roads of Virginia's 
sacred soil. The general color of Virginia soil is brick 
red. In summer it is an impalpable dust. In winter 
it is mud — and such mud ! The possibilities of its depth 
are limitless, while its consistency ranges from paste to 
dough. When we arrived the dust season was at its 

We didn't go to Fort Ward, but to Fort Richardson. 
But it didn't matter. The difference was only in name. 
It was simply a row of embankments, hastily thrown 
up. It was on Arlington Heights, just across the river 
from Washington. These so-called fortifications (still 
there) were made for the protection of the capital, the 
idea being then that the enemy was close at hand and 
that it would be the scene of a battle in a day or so. 

It was close enough to the city for visitors and fakirs. 
The latter's name was legion. They sold all sorts of 
useful and useless things to the soldier, the only one of 
which that was any good being a combined pocket knife, 
fork and spoon. No soldier ever had cause to regret 
buying one of these useful articles. All the other things 
were humbugs. 

The tintype fiend was also numerously in evidence, 
and there were few who didn't have "their pictures 
took" in warlike array to send home to admiring and 
awestruck friends and relatives. 

But where was the baggage? Where were the tents? 
Not a sign of them, and night was approaching. Jakey 
Engle cooked our beans and made our coffee on time. 


but there were do signs of sleeping accommodations. 
There was a general ''kick." The Thirteenth Eegi- 
ment then and there began the kicking that they kept 
up till the end of the war. There was an old saying in 
the army that a soldier who didn't kick was no good. 
In that particular sense there was no regiment in the 
army that filled the requirements of good soldiers to a 
greater extent than the Thirteenth New Jersey. 

For the first time in the lives of the most of us we 
went to bed outdoors on the bare ground, with nothing 
over us except the stars. It is a singular sensation to 
wake up in the night, chilled to the bone, and see the 
bright stars overhead. 

Many a man wished that night that he was between 
the sheets of his comfortable bed at home. Patriotism 
was at ebb tide, and at heart there were very few who 
were not sorry they had enlisted. 

"Wouldn't you rather be_setting type for an extra in 
the Guardian office?" asked Davy Harris. 

I honestly confessed that I would indeed. 

"Don't get downhearted, boys," said John Stansfield. 
" We have only 1,087 more days to serve." 

"What's that?" 

"I say we have only 1,087 more days to serve. You 
see we enlisted for three years. That is 1,095 days. 
We have been mustered in eight days. That leaves 1,087 
yet to serve." 

"Oh, but you know," said Harris, "that we enlisted 
'for three years unless sooner discharged,' and as the 
war won't last three years " 

"Don't calculate too much on that," interrupted 
Stansfield. ' ' I believe it is going to take more than three 
years to settle this thing." 

This was a dampening remark. I don't believe a 
single one of the men imagined when he enlisted that 
the war would last one year, let alone three. Such 
language was not calculated to make us very cheerful. 

And yet John Stansfield was pretty near right. It 
lacked only a few weeks of three years when the Thir- 
teenth Regiment was mustered out because their "serv- 
ices were no longer required." 

As to Stansfield's calculations: I don't believe there 


was a soldier in the army who did not, every night, 
mentally count up how many days had elapsed since his 
enlistment, and "how many more days he had to serve." 
This phase of the case certainly shows that army life 
was not as enjoyable as some people think it was. 
They counted the days yet remaining before they would 
be discharged, the same as a convict does the remaining 
days of his imprisonment. 

As we lay there on the hard Virginia soil that night, 
with the sky for a counterpane and the bright stars for 
night lamps, not one appreciated the magnitude of the 
struggle. Not one dreamed that the North would re- 
quire 1,500,000 soldiers before the rebellion was sup- 
pressed; that there would be 300,000 men killed; that 
there would be between 400,000 and 500,000 wounded; 
that the number who died from disease or exposure or 
were included under that] wonderful and mysterious 
heading of "missing," would aggregate some 300,000 

These are frightful statistics, but they are approxi- 
mately true. So sleep on in ignorance of the awful 
times to come ! Dream of home, soldier ! 

And so we slept. 




In the morning we were awakened by the mighty 
tread of a moving army. And what an army! Thou- 
sands upon thousands of men, whose dirty, filthy clothes 
made a sorry contrast with our bright new uniforms ; 
men with dirty, unkempt hair, worn out and pinched. 
None of them carried knapsacks — nothing but a rolled 
blanket hanging over one shoulder and tied under the 
arms on the other side with a string. They resembled 
horse collars. We wondered why this was done — why 
they had discarded their knapsacks. We learned that 

There were troops and troops of cavalry and mounted 
officers. There was an apparently interminable string 
of flying artillery. And as for the army wagons, each 
drawn by six braying mules, there was simply no end 
of them. 

But there was something else ! Blood ! 

Hundreds of two-wheeled ambulances came along; 
glancing in we saw the form of a motionless soldier, or 
perhaps two of them, and each one wearing a blood 
stained bandage somewhere. There were soldiers 
minus legs, soldiers minus arms, soldiers whose heads 
were so swathed that only the eyes could be seen. 

On foot were, seemingly, myriads of soldiers less 
severely wounded, with bandages on their heads, with 
their arms in slings, and not a white bandage could be 
seen without the stain of blood oozing through. John 
Ick's remark about a "slaughter house" was verified. 

We encountered some Paterson boys in the passing 
army — boys who had enlisted in the earlier regiments. 

They were already veterans. Many had "smelled 
powder." They had seen a battle. In fact they had 


been in a battle, and had been wounded. The privates 
didn't know it, but the army was even then on the re- 
treat, and falling back on Washington. The very- 
capital was threatened. 

Soldiers who participate in a battle don't know where 
they are or what it is named. Historians give names 
to battlefields. The one that had just taken place is 
now known as "The Second Bull Run." Twice the 
Army of the Potomac had been defeated on the same 
ground at Manassas. 

This battle was fought on August 29 and 30, 1862. 

It was this battle that caused the peremptory tele- 
graphic order for us to leave Camp Frelinghuysen at 

And on Monday night, September 1st, while we were 
on the way the maneuvering of the armies precipitated 
a second conflict between Hill's and Ewell's divisions 
of Stonewall Jackson's troops on the Confederate side, 
and the Union commands of Reno, Hooker and Kearny. 
It was what was subsequently called the battle of Chan- 
tilly. History tells us that one of Reno's divisions was 
forced back in disorder, whereupon the intrepid Kearny 
sont Birney's brigade to repair the break. A gap still 
remained on Birney's right, and Kearny galloped for- 
ward to reconnoiter. 

It was here that the gallant Phil Kearny lost his life. 
He had already lost an arm in a previous battle, and 
more than once the soldiers saw him leading a charge 
with his sword between his teeth, and guiding his horse 
with his only hand. He was courageous to the degree of 
recklessness. Unknowingly he penetrated the enemy's 
lines and was killed. In grateful remembrance of his 
services the State of New Jersey erected a handsome 
bronze monument, which for a time stood in the State 
House at Trenton, but which now stands in one of the 
parks on Broad Street, Newark. 

After the battle of Chantilly the Army of the Potomac 
fell back within the fortifications of Washington. It 
was this "falling back" that the Thirteenth Regiment 
encountered a day or so after they had left their muster- 
ing camp in Newark. 

It was expected then and there that General Lee and 


his whole army would be upon us in a few hours, and 
we raw recruits were told that we would likely have a 
battle soon. Was I frightened? Wasn't I? I can't 
speak for the others, but as for myself I thought surely 
that my days were numbered. When I enlisted I had 
a remote idea that I might possibly, some day in the 
far-off future, see a real battle; but this suddenness 
was too much, and I was completely upset. The sight 
of the vast retreating army ; the awful spectacle of the 
blood stained wounded ; the prospects of an immediate 
battle — well, it scared the whole lot of us. 

"Scared," is the correct word. We were thoroughly 
scared. And let me say right here that the man who 
says he was not scared on the eve of a battle is a liar. 

"You'll be sick of it before you're in it long," said 
one of the veteran Jerseymen. 

"We're sick of it already," was the reply. 

And we were. If there had been any back way to 
sneak home, I believe the whole lot of us would have 
sneaked. Why did we enlist? Why were we such 
fools? As for myself, I looked back over the previous 
few days and traced it to the pound of cheese I had 
carried around to Mr. Pennington's house. I never 
looked at a piece of cheese without thinking of it. My 
war experience and cheese are indissolubly connected. 

But General Lee and his army didn't chase us clear into 
Washington. Lee turned his face northward in search 
of new fields to conqiier. Day after day passed, and no 
enemy appeared, no fighting was done. Doubtless the 
"big guns" knew what was going on, but we privates 
were in ignorance. Privates never know anything. 
They simply do as they are told. From the moment 
they enlist they are shackled slaves, and some of the 
officers were worse slave-drivers than ever cudgeled a 
plantation negro. 

The first scare soon wore off. It is always so with an 
averted or delayed danger. For several days we had 
things easy. Our belated Sibley tents arrived from 
somewhere, the weather was fine, and we were comfor- 
table, to say the least. We mingled with the old Jersey 
soldiers and listened to their stories with interest — and 
consternation. They soon convinced us that our enlist' 


ment was not likely to be "a season of pleasure and 
victorious conquest," but that we were about to undergo 
hardships and sufferings then unknown to all but 

Congress was in session, then day and night, and some 
of us went over on passes and saw the lawmakers at work. 
I became acquainted with Senator McDougall,previousl3 r 
governor of California. I don't remember exactly how 
it was, but somehow he took a notion to me, and after- 
ward proved a friend. 

It was not all play, however. We were put through 
much drilling, and kept at work with the pick and 
shovel throwing up earthworks until our soft hands 
were blistered. It is a big jump from setting type to 
digging trenches. 

"Sure'n I didn't 'list for this," said Reddy Mahar, one 
afternoon, "I 'listed to fight the Johnny Rebs, and not 
to dig holes in the ground. Be jabers, oim going to 

Lem Smith was of similar opinion. John Ick thought 
it was a little better than a slaughter house anyway. 
Jack Butter worth said it was harder than turning bob- 
bins in Daggers & Row's shop. Curt Bowne thought it 
a shame. Discontent ruled the whole line. 

So an "indignation meeting" was held, and a com- 
mittee appointed to "wait on the colonel." The colonel 
said he had nothing to do with privates ; all complaints 
must come through the captain. That was "according 
to regulations." The committee then waited on the 

"Go back to work, or you'll go to the guardhouse," 
said he. "A soldier has nothing to do except obey 
orders. Your orders are to dig that trench." 

"But," said the spokesman, "we enlisted for soldiers, 
not to " 

The sentence was interrupted by a peculiar drum 
beat. The officers hurried to the colonel's tent. In a 
moment Captain Irish returned and ordered Company 
K to fall in. 

The whole regiment assembled in dress parade. 
Looking to the other camps we could see all the regi- 
ments doing the same thing. The adjutant read an 


order. It was to the effect that General George B. 
McClellan has been reassigned to the command of the 
Army of the Potomac. 

We all cheered. I didn't know why. Perhaps be- 
cause all the other regiments were cheering. A mighty 
chorus of hurrahs arose from the assembled army. The 
raw recruits were not aware of the fact that McClellan, 
no matter how much he might be in disfavor with the 
''heavy weights" at the head of the government was 
the idol of the older soldiers. His reassignment to com- 
mand filled them with enthusiasm, and they cheered; 
we cheered to be in fashion, if for nothing else. 

But there was another order. It involved dropping 
the pick and shovel, and so it ended Company K's 
threatened "strike." It was an order to be in readiness 
to move at a moment's notice. 

That afternoon, Saturday, September 6, 1862, it got 
out somehow that Lee with his whole army had skirted 
Washington and was over in Maryland making his 
way as fast as he could toward Pennsylvania. Unless 
stopped the enemy would soon be through Delaware and 
in New Jersey, on the way to New York. 

Instinctively every man thought of his home and 

"Why didn't they keep us at Newark?" asked Jack 
Butterworth. ' ' We would have been of more use there. ' ' 

"Oh, I guess we'll head them off," answered John 
Stansfield. "Besides I'd rather be along with the rest 
of the army than fighting the whole Southern Confed- 
eracy with a single regiment." 

So thought I. Besides, I rather liked the idea of Lee 
and his army marching up Main street, Paterson. I'd 
like to see an attack on the man who ordered that pound 
of cheese. And I wondered how those patriotic citizens 
who had induced me to enlist would act when they 
got a dose of their own medicine. 

We talked the matter over that night and speculated 
on coming events till we v/ere tired, and finally went to 
bed on our blanket mattresses in the comfortable Sibley 

But not to sleep. We had scarcely closed our eyes, 
when once more that infernal drum began beating in a 
way we'd never heard it beat before. 


"What is that?" we asked. 

"It's the long roll," said Sergeant Heber Wells, as 
he stuck his head through the flap of our tent. 

^The long roll? what does that mean?" 

"It means to pack up, boys," replied the sergeant, 
with considerable agitation manifested in his voice. 
'Pack up at once, get ready for a long march. And be 
quick about it. There's no time to lose." 

What could it mean? Was the enemy unexpectedly 
upon us, after all? 




Like the Arab of old we stole away in the night. 

But not "quietly." It was with a noise and a clatter, 
with cheer and jest, as if it were a moonlight excursion. 
We were loaded like pack mules. Our haversacks were 
stuffed with three days' rations. Our canteens were 
filled to the brim. In our cartridge boxes were forty 
rounds of ammunition, forty ounces of which were 
leaden bullets. Our knapsacks were packed like Sara- 
toga trunks, and the straps fairly cracked. 

All went smoothly enough for a while, and we kept a 
pretty good line as Ave crossed the aqueduct bridge into 
Georgetown. And by the way Georgetown with its 
surroundings looked then pretty much as it does now. 
I remember well my last glance at Washington. In 
the far distance was the Capitol, all lighted up, for 
Congress was holding one of its usual night sessions. In 
the rear of the "White House was a camp. I think it 
was the Tenth New Jersey, which was detailed for guard 
duty. Lucky Tenth ! Unlucky Thirteenth ! 

When I returned to Washington next, it was also in 
the night. But I didn't see much of it. I was only a 
wounded soldier, en route for the hospital. Never mind 
now. That comes later, and much comes before it. 

Unused as we were to marching, loaded down as we 
were with superfluous weight, it soon began to tell on us. 
One by one the raw and soft recruits began to fall by 
the wayside, utterly exhausted. We were beginning 
to appreciate the fact which all old soldiers knew by 
experience, that if there is any one thing worse than a 
battle it is a long march. Indeed for long-continued 
suffering, for indescribable agony, both physical and 
mental, for everything except the horror, marching is 
vastly worse than fighting. 


To the veterans it was comparatively easy. They 
were hardened, toughened. A thoroughly trained 
athlete can run live, ten, or even fifteen miles. An un- 
trained man would be fatigued at as many rods. We 
were like a bicyclist when he starts to ride in the spring, 
after a winter's rest. And the boys dropped from the 
ranks like drops from an icicle in the sun. 

I was young and wiry and stuck it out. But I was 
glad enough when about midnight were: marched into a 
big field ; our guns were stacked, and we threw ourselves 
down on the ground, just as we were, for a few hours' 
needed rest and sleep. Everybody was too tired to jest, 
too tired to talk. We needed no rocking to sleep. 

"Wake up, Joe, wake up! There's no rest for the 

It was John Stansfield, who was lying alongside me. 

"What in thunder are you doing?" I demanded 
angrily; "can't you let a fellow sleep?" 

"Get up," he repeated, giving me a punch in the ribs, 
"we've got to tramp again." 

It was too true. We were ordered to fall in ; and we 
hadn't rested an hour. It was a sleepy crowd that 
formed the crooked line of men comprising Company K. 
But it was dark and no one to see us. Furthermore 
the officers were as sleepy as we were. 

Now company officers march the same as the "men;" 
but they have to carry no baggage. That is carried in 
the wagons. All the foot officers have to carry is their 
swords — and, generally, a flask! The officers higher 
than captains rode horseback. 

What we were aroused for unless to make us more 
tired, I don't know. But we were marched up the road 
and down the road and back again, halted and counter- 
marched, until finally we were once more told to " break 
ranks" in a field adjoining the first one, and once more 
wa threw ourselves on the ground almost dead. 

To a private soldier these mysterious movements were 
always inexplicable. Every veteran can recall thou- 
sands of such experiences which then seemed and seem 
now to have been utterly unnecessary, and concocted 
for no other purpose than to fatigue and annoy. The 
misery, torture and suffering caused by these unexplained 
maneuvers could never be described. 


The next day was Sunday. 

"I guess they'll give us a rest to-day," said John 
Butterworth to me. 

"Why?" I asked. 

"Because it is Sunday. We haven't heard the chap- 
lain yet. You know he's to preach every Sunday, and 
of course we can't march and go to church at the same 

I had forgotten the chaplain. He was Rev. T. 
Romeyn Beck. He is still living, and is pastor of a 
church in California. He was a nice sort of a fellow, 
but didn't do much preaching, if I remember correctly. 
The chaplain wore a uniform of solemn black, even to 
the buttons. He rode with the colonel and major and 
altogether had quite a soft snap of it. 

Chaplains didn't do much fighting. They were sup- 
posed to administer spiritual consolation on the battle- 
field; but as a usual thing they, like the old war-horse, 
"smelled the battle from afar." The rate of mortality 
among the chaplains was not high. I don't think the 
life insurance companies classed them as "extra haz- 
ardous." I don't say our chaplain was never in a bat- 
tle ; but I can say I never saw him in one. But then 
perhaps I was generally too scared to see anybody in 

But nevertheless Chaplain Beck was a nice man and 
kind to us soldier boys. The chaplain was usually 
the regimental postmaster. I forget whether Chaplain 
Beck or the one who succeeded him was the victim of a 
cruel joke late in the campaign, which I might as well 
tell here as anywhere. 

There had been no mail for several weeks and the 
boys were getting impatient to hear from home. They 
fairly pestered the life out of the chaplain to know when 
the mail would be in. He couldn't go anywhere or at- 
tempt to do a thing without meeting some one with the 
inquiry about mail. There is a limit to the endurance 
even of clergymen. Getting tired of answering questions 
the following notice was posted outside the chaplain's 

"The chaplain does not know when the mail will be 


The boys didn't like this. It was shutting them off 
too summarily . Finally a wag got a piece of charcoal 
and made an addition to the sign. 

All the bo} r s tittered when they saw it, but sneaked 
out of sight when they saw Colonel Carman approach- 
ing. He gave one glance at the sign in front of the 
tent, and then stuck his head in the opening. 

"Say, cap," said he, addressing the chaplain, "what 
sort of a notice is this you have out here?" 

"Oh," replied ho, "the boys are bothering me so 
much about the mails that I thought I would post a 
general answer, so that they may all read it." 

"But isn't the language rather rough?" inquired the 

"It's all right, isn't it?" 

"Just look at it and see how it reads, cap." 

The chaplain stepped out, bareheaded, and this is the 
sign that met his astonished gaze : 

"The chaplain doea not know when the mail will be 
in — neither does he care a damn!" 

That sign came down, and never again did anything 
of the kind appear in front of his tent. 

But this is a digression. We will dismiss the chap- 
lain by saying that we had no religious services that 
day, nor for many a long day. 

Neither were we allowed to have a rest. Tired and 
stiff as we were, with our legs cramped and sore, with 
blood in our shoes from chafed feet, wo were relentlessly 
ordered to fall in to resume the pitiless march. 

And never shall I forget that day ! 




No, never shall I forget that day — that hot Sunday, 
September 7, 1862. 

The sun rose like a red, burnished copper globe. Not 
a breath of air was stirring. The atmosphere was 
torrid, stifling, enervating. It was pitilessly hot. And 
we were stiff, sore, and filled with strange pains and 
aches from the previous night's march. 

But what mattered that? What were the personal 
suffering of individuals in a vast army! Cruel and re- 
lentless it seemed to us, raw recruits that we were, fresh 
from the customary considerations of civil life, that we 
should be forced to resume the terrible march. 

And here let me state a curious fact. Any one would 
naturally imagine that the men who best stood the 
rigors of an army march would be those who filled the 
hardest positions in civil life. An express- wagon driver, 
accustomed to lifting heavy boxes; a back wood sman, 
inured to hardships and exposure; a blacksmith or a 
day laborer — these are the men one would imagine the 
best toughened for soldier life. But such was not the 
case. The men who stood it out the best were those 
who were accustomed to the lightest work at home. 
Bookkeepers, dry goods clerks, men who never lifted 
anything heavier than a ledger or a roll of calico — these 
were the men who could endure the most hardship and 

Any old officer of the army will tell you that this is 
so. It is a singular fact. It was often discussed and 
commented upon, but no explanation was ever given. 
It was simply so and that settled it. 

And so it was on this hot September morning. The 
men who had been regarded, the most hardy seemed to 


suffer the most. Those who had had the hardest phys- 
ical labor at home were the stiffest, the sorest, the most 
complaining. Although I had never had hard work in 
the printing office and was not naturally robust, I prob- 
ably suffered as little as anybody, as far as physical 
ailment was concerned, except for the intolerably raw 
blisters on my feet, caused by the unpliable brogans and 
thick coarse stockings, the latter being so much too 
large that they were as full of wrinkles as the skin of a 

There was one thing that worried me that morning, 
however. It was the heat, and threatened promise of 
what we now call "a scorcher." I never could stand 
the fierce rays of the summer sun ; but never dreaded it 
so much as I did that morning. Was it a presentiment 
of what was to happen? Who knows? 

That morning was our first experience with "hard- 
tack." Hitherto we had had fresh bread; but that 
"soft stuff" had run out, and we were compelled to 
draw upon the rations in our haversacks. Now, as ex- 
plained in a previous chapter, a hard -tack is an innocent- 
and soft-looking thing. But he who tackles one finds 
that he is a victim of misplaced confidence. They look 
like soda crackers. But they are not soda crackers. 

When I struck the first one I thought that I had en- 
countered an unusually ancient specimen. I could make 
no more impression on it than a missionary could on the 
heart of a Fiji cannibal. I turned to my comrade, 
Heber Wells, and saw him trying to pull a tooth. At 
least so it seemed. He was only trying to get a bite out 
of the hard-tack. 

"How does it go?" I asked. 

"Don't go at all," he replied. "How do you eat these 
things, anyhow?" 

"I tell you how I did it," said John Stansfield. "I 
smashed mine between a couple of stones." 

"By jimminey," said John Ick, "I tried that, and by 
jimminey I proke dose stones alrettj 7 , and never proke 
dot, vat you callem, dot hart-tack. ' ' 

Jake Engle had, however, got a pointer from^one of 
the older soldiers, who had taught him how to made 
"lobskouse." Now what bread and butter is to a person 


at home, that is "lobskouse" to the soldier. Here is 
the way to make the great army dish. 

Take a bit of fat pork and melt it over the fire in a 
frying-pan or tin plat9. Break up the hard-tack into 
small pieces and drop it into the frying fat. Let the 
whole mess sizzle together until the cracker is saturated 
with the fat and the result is a product that looks and 
tastes like pie crust. It is quite palatable. The crack- 
ers are softened and you can eat the stuff, and over a 
million men could testify that it would sustain life. 
Where all other supplies were unattainable, "lobskouse" 
was generally available, and scarcely a day passed but 
that it did not form the principal dish for at least one 

Indigestible stuff, you say? Well, who ever heard 
of a soldier having dyspepsia? Of all the ailments that 
came along to make the soldier's life miserable, indi- 
gestion was one of the things he never complained of. 
Ye dyspeptics, who swallow nostrums and patent med- 
icines by the barrel, consider the ways of the soldiers 
and be wise. Go to the war and be shot, and you'll 
have no more dyspepsia. Nor will you have any more 
even if you are not shot. 

As soon as we had gulped down our lobskouse and 
black coffee, we fell in and were marched down to the 
edge of the field near the highway. There we waited 
for an hour or more, watching the passing troops. Was 
there no end to them? The line seemed interminable. 
Infantry, cavalry, artillery, baggage wagons and am- 
bulances, in an endless row — the men and horses four 
abreast, the wagons and cannons two abreast. They 
were mostly old soldiers, and, of course, dirty soldiers. 
They looked like tramps. But few carried knapsacks. 
They carried their blankets in a roll over their 

Each of the men carried a quart cup or a tomato can, 
tied to his haversack. These had wire handles or bales, 
making them into little tin pails. Each one was as 
black as a stovepipe from smoke. We did not know 
then what we learned afterward, that the tin pails con- 
stituted the main cooking utensil of the army. On the 
march and field every man is his own cook. 


Some carried frying-pans. At each step the tin pails, 
canteens and other things rattle together with a "clink- 
ety -clink," "clinkety -clink" that sounded like an or- 
chestra of cracked cowbells. In the still of the night 
you could hear the clatter of the tinware of an army 
miles away. All this was new to us raw recruits. 

After an apparently interminable wait, we were 
finally ordered to fall in the seemingly endless proces- 
sion. The trouble began. 

Now those who have never marched in an army know 
nothing of the most exasperating features. When you 
see a company or regiment of militia marching up a 
street you are pleased with the regularity of the step 
and the nicely maintained distance between the lines. 
But suppose a train came along while crossing the 
railroad, or a street car gets into the way, there is a 
break and delay. When the obstruction is removed, 
the rear of the column has to march in quick step to 
close up the gap caused by the forward end keeping on 
the go while the rear is stopped. 

In the army there were such obstructions in the shape 
of broken wagons or caissons, narrow bridges, or brooks 
to cross. The front men narrowed the width of the 
column and marched past, while the rear slowed up. 
With a few men this amounted to nothing ; but when 
extended down and through a line of thousands or tens 
of thousands, those in the rear had frequent halts of 
half an hour or so, and then a stiff race of five or ten 
minutes to catch up. This was very wearing and fa- 
tiguing. Old soldiers knew enough to lie down every 
minute they could and reserve their strength and en- 
durance. We were ignorant. 

As the sun rose in the sky it grew hotter and hotter. 
It was a perfect broil. The perspiration fell in streams 
from our faces and rolled down our backs. Our thick 
underclothing stuck to our skin like wet sheets. Our 
backs began to ache. The numerous straps on our 
shoulders cut into the very flesh. Whatever way we 
carried our guns they seemed heavier than before. It 
was torture. Nine out of ten men were limping as if 
lame from the constantly increasing size of the raw 
blisters on their feet. 


We Were in Maryland and were to march, it was 
said, until we reached Rockville. How far was it? we 
asked the first "native' ' we encountered. ' ' Right about 
nine mile, I reckon," he said. 

After marching an hour or so longer we asked another 
Maryland rustic how far it was to Rockville. 

"Right about nine mile!" 

And so it was. Everybody we asked, no matter how 
much further we went, "reckoned it were about nine 

I saw the other fellows lightening their load and fol- 
lowed suit. First went an extra suit of underclothes. 
"Every little helps." A while later and I discarded by 
the wayside a comb and brush, a shaving set, a box of 
blacking and brush. "Every pound counts." A mile 
further and I pulled out two cakes of soap, a couple of 
towels, a pincushion and sewing case. "A little bet- 

But no use. What the others were doing I would do. 

It seemed a pity to throw away the nice overcoat and 
blouse and dress coat, but they had to go. And finally 
the knapsack itself followed, leaving nothing but the 
rubber and woolen blankets. The heaviest thing of all, 
the cartridge box, we couldn't discard, for soldiers must 
fight. The most useful things, the haversack and 
canteen, we stuck to, for soldiers must eat and drink. 

The road for miles was strewn with things that cost 
the government much money. But what odds? Uncle 
Sam was rich, and we were only doing what every new 
soldier had done before us and what all soldiers will 
do hereafter, to the beginning of the millennium when 
there will be no more war. By noon we were, that is 
the most of us, down to the lightest marching order of 
the oldest veterans in the line. 

As I intimated, not all of us. Some sturdy fellows 
stuck to their loads. Sergeant Heber Wells, for in- 
stance, who did not discard a single article from his 
stuffed knapsack, nor that comical fellow "Jeff Davis," 
who all through the war persisted in carrying two 

The pitiless sun shortly after noon began to get in its 
fine work. One by one the men fell out. Hank Van 


Orden was the first of Company K to succumb. His 
mind suddenly grew flighty, he mumbled a few inar- 
ticulate meaningless words, threw up his arms, gave a 
yell, and fell like a log, senseless. He was rolled to the 
side of the road and left "for the ambulance to pick up. " 
A moment later Lem Smith raised his hands, clutched the 
air, and fell. John Snyder dropped like a bullock felled 
with an axe. Poor John Ick, who had quite appro- 
priately been prating about "slaughter nouses" and 
"shambles," was the next victim. Soon after fat John 
Farlow staggered to the side path and threw himself 
down in the miserable shade of a rail fence. Archy 
Todd reeled like a top two or three times, and fell for- 
ward on his face in the dusty road. 

And so it went. By 3 o'clock in the afternoon not 
thirty of the ninety members of Company K were in 
the line, and it was correspondingly the same in all 
the other companies of the regiment. There were per- 
haps three times as many members of the Thirteenth 
stretched along the roadside than there were in the ranks. 

Aside from the suffering from the sun and the torture 
from the heavy load and from our bleeding feet, there 
was a marked mental depression, consequent upon the 
sight of so many of our comrades falling out. It is a 
well-known fact that when one or two girls faint in a 
mill or in a school, a dozen will do likewise. _ Any old 
factory foreman or teacher will tell you this. To a 
certain extent the same species of hysteria affects men. 
I know it affected me. 

And as said before, I never could stand the sun. 
What I suffered that day no man can ever know unless 
he has been through the same experience. 

Along about 3 o'clock I guess it was, I suddenly 
noticed that the trees and fences were beginning to 
dance. The soldiers in front of me were turning rapid 
somersaults. There was a horrible sickness of the 
stomach and my head seemed about to split open ! 

For an instant tho air was full of stars ! Then the sky 
turned green ! Then black ! 

Then — utter oblivion ! 

J was sunstruck ! 




"No, he isn't going to die. He'll come around all 

"It was a close shave, though; wasn't it, doctor?" 

"Yes, it was. But the danger is over now. Keep 
him right here under the shade of this tree, and keep 
the towel on his head wet with cool water. Don't give 
him any more of the brandy without letting me know 

This is part of a conversation I hear, in a dim, hazy 
sort of a way. It seems afar off, or as if in another 
room, through partly closed doors. Yet it is distinct, 
in a certain way. What does it mean? Oh, how my 
head aches ! 

Where am I? What has happened? What am I 
doing here, with my head done up in wet towels, lying 
on the grass under a tree? For a moment I think I am 
on my old grandfather's farm, lying in the orchard, as 
I used to do. But that pain in my head ! What does 
it mean? And I feel so sick — oh, so sick ! 

I open my eyes and dimly see the men moving about. 
Ha! There's Liv Allen and Davy Harris. It's the 
Guardian office. There's been an accident somehow, 
and I've been hurt. I'll ask. But wait. How funny 
they look, all dressed in blue. Where are their work- 
ing aprons? I can't think. It's too much. My head! 
My head ! I cannot rest a bit. Let me think. Where 
am I? 

"Fall in for your supper, boys." 

What's that I hear? "Boys?" "Supper." "Fall 
in!" Oh, my head! How bewildered I am ! Oh! 

In a minute, as if by magic, a veil seems to roll away 
and I recognized the voice I had heard as Jake Engle's, 


Jake ! Oh, yes, Jake, who has been appointed company- 
cook, the cook for Company K, when in camp. It's all 
coming back now. I remember, I enlisted. Yes, that 
march. The men falling around us, like so many ten- 
pins. The terrible heat, I remember now. "Was I too 

With an effort I pull myself together and speak. 
Who was leaning over me but the captain, the kind- 
hearted Captain Irish — who had less than ten days more 
to live himself ! 

"How do you feel, Joe?" he asked, taking my hand. 

"Got a terrible headache," I replied. "But what 
happened? Was I sunstruck?" 

"Yes, but you're all right now, the doctor says." 

The captain then told me that I had fallen out, like 
the others, a little after 3 o'clock, and that it was now 
after 6. I had been picked up and brought along by 
one of the ambulances. I had been unconscious for 
nearly three hours, and at one time they thought I was 

The captain told me that we were at a place called 
Rockville, in the State of Maryland, twenty-two miles 
from Washington ; we had only marched fourteen miles 
that day, but the sun was so hot and the boys so unused 
to marching that when they reached the camping-place, 
about 5 o'clock, there were less than two hundred of 
the Thirteenth present. Out of nine hundred men, only 
two hundred stood it out. Seven hundred men had suc- 
cumbed to the fierce heat of that hot September day and 
fallen by the wayside ! 

No man ever fully recovers from the effects of a gen- 
uine sunstroke. I have suffered from it in more ways 
than one, ever since. A few moments in the hot sun is 
sure to bring on symptoms that are danger- singals for 
precautionary measures. Perhaps that sunstroke has 
been the cause of many subsequent sins of omission and 
commission. I trust that my critics will bear this in 
mind and make allowance for shortcomings ! 

Captain Irish had in his hand as he spoke to me a box 
of some sort of salve or ointment. Noticing my inquir- 
ing look, he said : 


" When they pulled off your shoes, I noticed that your 
feet were bleeding from the blisters. I had some oint- 
ment that Mrs. Irish made. It is from an old family 
receipt. I think your feet won't hurt you so much 

"But, captain," I interrupted. "You don't mean to 
say you have been rubbing my feet with ointment? 
You did not do it yourself, 1 hope:"' 

His answer made a lump come into my throat. 

"Why certainly, Joe. Why not?" 

I turned my head, because I did not want him to see 
the tears in my eyes. Just think of it ! A captain bath- 
ing the sore feet of a private ! How many soldiers in 
the army can recall a case like that? But there was 
only one Captain Irish. Do you wonder his men learned 
to worship him in the short time he lived to serve his 
country? Do you wonder that his old soldiers touch 
their hats reverently to this day, when his name is men- 
tioned? Not only was he a brave patriot, but a kind, 
tender-hearted man, beloved as a father by the men in 
his company. 

But no matter what the after effect may be, the im- 
mediate recuperative powers inherent in a healthy boy 
of seventeen or eighteen are wonderful, and with the 
exception of a slight headache and general played- 
outness, I felt quite well the next day, and went around 
pretty much as the others. 

The men who had fallen out like myself had returned 
to the regiment and we again assumed the appearance 
of a camp. 

To enhance our comfort our big Sibley tents arrived 
from somewhere unknown to us, and we were soon in 
as good a shape as at Camp Frelinghuysen in Newark, 
with the exception that there were a number who were 
still somewhat under the weather from the unaccus- 
tomed exposure and the fatigue of the march. 

This resulted in the introduction of, to us, a new feat- 
ure of army experience, the surgeon. Dr. Love and his 
assistant, Dr. Freeman, had put up their medical tent, 
and started business. And they were doing quite a 

The sick soldiers in the army are divided into three 


classes. One class includes those who are confined to 
their tents ; the second those who are confined to the 
hospital ; and the third those who are able to go to the 
surgical headquarters for their medicine. Those in the 
hospital or tents were visited as often as necessity re- 
quired — the same as a doctor would do in civil life. 
With the others it was as follows : 

Every morning at 8 o'clock the drummer and fifer 
detailed at the regiment headquarters would sound the 
"sick call." The tune played by the fifer was some- 
thing like "Johnny, get your gun," but the way the 
boys interpreted it was this : 

" Come, get your blue pills, 
Blue pills, blue pills, 
Come, get your blue pills, 
Blue pills, blue. " 

The point of this was that it was a tradition in the 
army that the surgeons had onl} T one kind of medicine, 
and that was calomel; or as commonly called, "blue 
pills." If a soldier had a headache or a sore toe, the 
remedy was a blue pill. If an indiscreet forager had 
indulged in too much surreptitious green corn, the proper 
remedy was a blue pill. If in the ordinary course of 
events the ailment was of a contrary character, what 
you wanted was a good dose of blue pills. No matter 
what was the matter, the remedy was blue pills. 

I am not a doctor. Whether there was any truth in 
this story about blue pills being a regulation pan- 
acea for all the ills that flesh is heir to, I am unable to 
affirm. All that I can say is that it was an army tra- 
dition, and I appeal to veterans for verification. Hence 
the familiar words that the boys tacked on to "the sick 

From the indications surrounding us we privates 
naturally imagined that we were going to have a long 
stay at Rockville camp. It was a pretty spot and we 
were nothing loath. We did not know that it was but 
a temporary halt of a pursuing army. 

General Lee and the Confederate forces were march- 
ing up into Maryland somewhere ahead of us. The 
commanders of the Union army were, it seems, a little 


at a loss as to just what point Lee was steering for. 
That naturally involved the route we were to take. 
There were several roads to select from, but the ques- 
tion was which one would best intercept the enemy in 
his northward course. The enemy's intentions were 
therefore an essential requisite. 

Such information was obtained by scouts, or by cav- 
alry reconnoisances. To make these investigations and 
bring back a non-conflicting report, occupied a day or 
so's time. That was what we were waiting for. 

The head officers knew all this, of course; but we 
privates did not. The rank and file of an army know 
no more about what they are doing, why they stop here 
and go there, than so many sheep. We naturally sup- 
posed just then that we were going to have a good rest 
— to "wait till it got a little cooler." 

In the light of history we know now that General 
McClellan ascertained that the enemy's objective point 
was the great strategic position of Harper's Ferry. 
Hence McClellan picked out a route that converged 
with that of the enemy so that the two armies would 
probably intersect near South Mountain. And so they 
did! That is just where they "intersected." 

While at Rockville we were "brigaded." That 
means that we were assigned to a particular section of 
the army. We were put in General Gordon's brigade 
of General William's division of General Bank's corps. 
The other regiments of our brigade were the Second 
Massachusetts, the Third Wisconsin, the Twenty- 
seventh Indiana, and the One Hundred and Seventh 
New York. With the exception of the latter and the 
Thirteenth Regiment, they were all veterans, and ranked 
with the best fighting troops of the army. Phew ! we 
didn't relish that much ! 

General Gordon, the brigade commander, was a West 
Point graduate, and former Colonel of the Second Mas- 
sachusetts. Colonel Ruger, of the Third Division, was 
also a West Pointer. He is now a major-general in the 
regular army. 

About noon on Tuesday, September 9, 1862, our hopes 
of a long rest were suddenly dispelled by an order to 
fall in at once to resume the march. 


This order was accompanied by instructions that 
seemed to mean business. It was that we would pro- 
ceed in ' ' light marching order. ' ' We were told to leave 
behind our commodious Sibley tents (which we never 
laid eyes on again). We were soon told to leave our 
knapsacks. Most of those had been left by the way- 
side ; but that was the order to be obeyed by those who 
had stuck to their "trunks." 

"What does this mean?" I asked one of the Second 
Massachusetts veterans. 

"It means a fight!" said he. 





"A battle?" 


"What makes you think so?" 

"Oh," calmly replied the Second Massachusetts man, 
"we old soldiers know the signs. When you have been 
halted a day or so, and then suddenly along comes an 
order to get up and git, in light marching order, that 
generally means that you are going to get into a 
l scrimmage mighty soon, or somewhere pretty near it." 

"How does a fellow feel when he gets into a battle?" 
I asked, nervously. 

"Are you scared?" he asked. 

"Well, no; not exactly that. But I don't feel com- 

"Own up now, like a man, that you're scared." 

"Well— a little bit." 

To tell the truth my teeth were chattering. 

"You'll be scared a darned sight worse, I reckon," 
said the unfeeling bean-eater. ' ' Scared is no name for 
it. The man never lived that wasn't scared in a battle. 
Put that down. But the worst part of it is just before 
you go in — when you're waiting to go in." (A soldier 
always referred to entering a battle as "going in.") 

"What are your sensations then?" 

"Pshaw, pard, I couldn't begin to tell you, except 
that you're scared, awfully scared, and that's all there 
is about it." 

"Were you ever wounded?" 

"No; nor I don't want to be, neither. If ever I'm 
shot, I want to be plunked dead and be done with it. 
I've seen enough men wounded not to care to be 


wounded myself. But it's no use o' my telling you. 
From the looks o' things I guess you'll know all about 
it yourself before long. ' ' 

Now this was interesting talk, wasn't it? It made 
the patriotism ooze out of my little toe. What with the 
marching ] and the hot weather and the horrible pros- 
pects ahead, I was rapidly becoming very sorry that I 
had been such a fool as to enlist. 

But soldiers are kept too busy to have much time for 
reflection, and activity is the best possible antidote for 
depression of spirits. The preparations for the start 
engrossed our attention. And after the customary pre- 
liminary delay we were again on the march. Quite a 
number of sick and disabled men were left behind to 
catch up with the regiment when they had recovered. 

In the Union army, as it started on thai Maryland 
campaign, there were about one hundred thousand men. 
General Lee's army contained about sixty thousand 
men. We were about five to three of the enemy. Per- 
haps had we known that then, we would have felt a 
little better. And then again, perhaps we wouldn't ! 

The army moved forward in three columns — that is, 
by three roads. History tells us that the right wing, 
under General Burnside, comprised the latter's own 
corps and that of General Hooker. This was on the 
right. The center column was composed of Generals 
Sumner and Mansfield's corps, under command of 
Sumner. General Franklin's corps and General 
Couch's division were on the left, while General Fitz- 
John Porter and his troops brought up the rear. 

We know all this now. We didn't at the time. All 
that we knew, was that we were part and parcel of a 
string of soldiers of apparently countless numbers, 
marching along toward some fate, we knew not what. 
John Ick said it was to "a slaughter house." 

After a march that was not so fatiguing as that to 
Rockville, for the weather was slightly cooler and we 
were getting somewhat used to it, we encamped for the 
night at a place called Middlebrook. Here we were 
initiated into the art of "every man his own cook." 

I don't know where all the tomato cans came from. 
Perhaps they were discarded relics of the officers' mess, 


for the officers' provisions were carried in the baggage 
wagons and usually comprised a greater variety than 
the menu of the "men." Perhaps it will not be gen- 
erally remembered that this was before the days of 
canned goods. Tomatoes and sardines were about the 
only things put up in tin cans in 1862. Fresh vege- 
tables were not attainable the year round, as they are 

Some of the boys had provided themselves with little 
tin pails; I had not, but I was fortunate enough to find 
a tomato can and a piece of wire, and making a bale of 
the latter I soon had a little pail. These tomato cans 
were a good deal better than the "boughten" pails, for, 
the tin being thinner, you could boil water quicker, and 
when the can gets too much smoked and burned you 
could throw it away and pick up another. 

Taking some lessons from the older soldiers, we pre- 
pared our own suppers. For the edification of house- 
wives and cooks I'll tell you how we soldiers made 

Take a tomato-can pail and fill it with water from 
the nearest spring or brook. Take a handful of ground 
coffee from your haversack and sprinkle it on top of the 
water; the most of it will float. Get a long stick and 
put the pail on the end of it and hold it over the fire. 
Of course a dozen or fifteen other fellows are scrambling 
for the hottest place in the fire with their coffee pails, 
and you must fight for your chance. You're lucky if 
you don't get a plunk in the nose. After awhile the 
water begins to boil, and suddenly the coffee rises to the 
top, in a creamy sort of a chocolate color. Then quickly 
dash from your canteen a squirt or so of cold water. 
Instantly the grounds will settle to the bottom and your 
coffee will be quite clear. As the orthodox recipes say, 
"serve hot." 

That is the way army coffee is made and it isn't bad 
either. At least it is as good as coffee can be without 
cream. We had sugar and "sweetened to taste," and 
generally drank right out of the tin pail, for cups were 
a useless bother. 

With a bit of fat pork toasted in the fire on the end 
of a stick, and the hard-tack somewhat softened by 


soaking in the coffee, it made a tolerably fair meal. 
And this was the average meal of the Union soldier on 
the march throughout the war. Somehow we got a 
knack of cracking the hard-tack with our teeth and they 
by no means seemed as hard as at first. A hard-tack is 
similar to the Hebrew unleavened bread of Passover 
times. In fact it is practically the same. No salt is 
used in its manufacture, and if kept dry it will last for 
years. Hence that brand of "B. C." wouldn't be so 
inappropriate after all. 

It must be acknowledged that there could be no more 
picturesque sight than an army of soldiers in bivouac 
after a day's march. When the order came to halt, 
which was generally in the vicinity of some body of 
fresh water, say a brook or a spring or lake, there 
would be a general scramble for fuel. The choicest 
fuel of all was a rail fence. Then the dry twigs that 
lay around under the trees. Then the trees themselves. 
Then the boards and shingles from every old house and 
barn in sight. 

An enormous flock of Nebraska grasshoppers could 
not create such sudden devastation. In five minutes 
not a vestige of a rail fence could be seen. A pretty 
strong guard was the only way of preventing the im- 
mediate demolishing of a building. In three days' 
time, should the army stop, nothing but stumps could 
be seen where there had stood a vast forest. In a 
friendly section certain restrictions were placed on the 
troops. In an enemy's country, unlimited license to 
destroy was the unwritten law. 

There were generally one or two camp fires to a com- 
pany, besides additional ones for the officers, and at the 
respective headquarters. In the one hundred thousand 
troops encamped that night there were perhaps two 
thousand or two thousand five hundred campfires. 
The encamping army covered ground twelve or sixteen 
miles square. 

Just imagine a grand concourse of soldiers scattered 
over a tract of land ten or fifteen miles square. Scatter 
among these two or three thousand bonfires, each one 
producing a big volume of smoke. Around each fire a 
crowd of men, cooking their suppers, smoking their 


pipes, singing and laughing. Add the indescribable 
braying of the mules, a fife and drum here, a bugle 
there and occasionally a brass band (there weren't many 
of them) playing. Imagine all this, and you'll have a 
vague sort of an idea of the army as it stopped that 
night at Middlebrook, Maryland. 

And the songs the soldiers used to sing! It mattered 
not how little one knew how to sing, he was expected to 
join in the chorus. When on the march, and not too 
tired, the whole army would suddenty break out with 
that famous old song to the tune of "John's Brown's 

" We'll hang Jeff Davis on a sour apple tree, 
We'll hang Jeff Davis on a sour apple tree, 
We'll hang Jeff Davis on a sour apple tree, 
While his soul goes marching on." 

When sitting around the campfire a different class 
of songs were sung, such as "Dixie" : 

" I wish I was in de land of cotton 
Cinnamon seed and sandy bottom 
Look away, look away, look away to Dixie land." 

Or another to which an additional verse was added 
for each year the war continued, which ran : 

" In eighteen hundred and sixty-one 

Free-ball! Free-ball! 
In eighteen hundred and sixty-one 

Free-ball! Free-ball! 
In eighteen hundred and sixty-one 
The war had then but just begun 
And we'll all drink stone blind, 
Johnny, fill up the bowl. " 

The latter verse will no doubt cause a smile to appear 
on the lips of all soldiers who see it, for it will involun- 
tarity recall to their mind the text of some of the others, 
which would hardly look well in print ! 




In the previous chapter I told how the boj T s were sit- 
ting around the Middlebrook camp fires, smoking and 
singing. But "there were others," as the saying goes, 
and these were on picket duty. Every night, whether 
in camp or on the march, a certain number of men are 
detailed to do picket duty. They are to watch that the 
enemy doesn't get in, and that the soldiers don't get out. 

One of Company K's picket detail was the irrepressi- 
ble John Ick. The officer of the guard had a hard time 
instructing John Ick in the duties of a sentry. John's 
post, by the way, was under a tree at the edge of a 
wood. It is perhaps hardly necessary to say that there 
wasn't a "Johnny Reb" within thirty or forty miles. 
But John took the assignment with great dignity, with 
as much apparent determination to do his duty as if the 
woods swarmed with the soldiers of the enemy. 

"Now you must be very careful," said Lieutenant 
Scott, the officer of the guard. "You must not let any 
one pass without the countersign." 

"Vot vas the goundersign, Mr. Scott?" asked Ick. 

"It is a word that must be whispered 'in your ear like 
this — ' Brandy wine. ' That' s the countersign. ' ' 

"Brandywine. Oh, yes, I'll remember dot; dat is 
something to trink, like lager beer. I'll just think by 
ein glass lager beer, and don't forget dot what you call 
him — dot gountersign." 

Lieutenant Scott instructed Ick in the modus oper- 
andi of treating approaching friend or foe during the 
night, and particularly enjoined upon him not to let his 
gun pass out of his hands, no matter who it might be. 
Nor must he let any one pass without the countersign. 


"Not even der captain?" asked Ick. 

"No, not even the captain." 


1 ' Nobody whatever. ' ' 

"Now I onderstand, dot's all ri-et," said John. 
"Iffer everybotty comes by here vot don't des gounter- 
sign have, I shoot 'em, eh?" 

Later in the night Lieutenant Scott suggested to Cap- 
tain Irish that he test John Ick while he was on his 
post. He did so. 

"Who comes there, alretty?" demanded Ick. This 
was the correct salutation, for a wonder, except for the 

"It's I — Captain Irish," was the reply. 

"Oh, dot's all ri-et. How you was, captain? It was 
a nice night, ain't it?" 

"Yes, a very nice night. But say, John, you are not 
holding your gun right. Let me show you." 

Ick handed the captain his rifle. 

"You must hold it this way," said the captain, bring- 
ing it to a "charge bayonet" and touching John with 
the point of it against his stomach. 

"Don't do dot captain; by gimminey, you almost 
stick it through me alretty." 

"Now look here, John," said the captain severely, 
"supposing I wasn't Captain Irish. Suppose I was a 

"But you vasn't no reppel, I know'd you was Cap- 
tain Irish." 

"Yes, but suppose it was so dark you couldn't see 
me, or suppose it was General McClellan?" 

"Dot would be all riet, not?" 

"But suppose it was some one else who passed him- 
self off under a false name, and after getting your gun, 
killed you?" 

"Mine Gott ! I dont't think py dot. " 

"Now, John," said the captain, kindly, "I only did 
this to try you. Let it be a lesson. Never let your gun 
out of your hands while on picket, not even if it is the 
President of the United States." 

"By gimminey, I don'd give dot gun to Kaiser Wil- 
helm if he comes any more." 


John Ick evidently understood this part of the busi- 
ness now. And let me say right here that that identical 
test was tried on every new recruit in the army, and in 
five cases out of ten with a similar result. 

About an hour afterward the "grand rounds" came 
along. The "grand rounds" was a regular nocturnal 
visit, usually about midnight, to test the vigilance of 
the picket lines. Some high officer, but more generally 
the officer of the day, accompanied by a small body 
guard, performed it. As they approached John Ick 
they were met with the regulation salutation : 

""Who comes there?" 

"The grand rounds." 

"The grand rounds," answered Ick, "I don' d know 
vat dot grand rounds vas, but you don'd fool me any 
more alretty like dot Captain Irish. I vas holdiug dot 
gun all ri-et, and don'd you forget it." 

"What nonsense is this?" asked the grand officer, 
stepping forward. 

"No you don'd do dot," exclaimed Ick. "You don'd 
got my gun some more, and 3-ou don'd go!; py here ober 
you don'd say dot gountersign. Say lager beer!" 

"What?" exclaimed the astonished officer. 

"Say lager beer." 

"What is lager beer? What do you mean by that, 
you stupid blockhead?" demanded the officer. 

"Dot vas de gountersign alretty. You dond pass by 
ober you dond say lager beer." 

"Who told you the countersign was lager beer?" 

"Mister Scott." 

"Who is Mister Scott?" 

"Vy, don't you know him? Dot vas Jim, der luff- 
tennant by Company K. " 

"Did he tell you the countersign was lager beer?" 


"Didn't he say Brandywine?" 

"Brandywine? Oh, ya! Dot vas it. I forgot him 
alretty. I know'd it vas something to drink, and I 
thought it was lager boer, py gimminey. You shust 
say Brandywine. Dat's all ri-et!" 

"How long have you been in the service?" asked 
the officer. 


\ "Vot service?" 

"The army. How long have you been a soldier?" 

"Oh, about six week, alretty." 

"Been on picket before?" 

"Nein. Dot vos de first times." 

"I thought so," said the grand officer. And then he 
proceeded to explain that he must never give away the 
countersign ; that it must come from the person who 
wanted to get past, and not from the soldier on guard. 
Although outwardly severe, the officersmade all allow- 
ances for such green recruits. It was the way they in- 
structed them in their duties. And it made a more 
lasting lesson than any amount of school class tuition. 
John Ick learned his lesson well, and was proven to be 
a faithful picket on many a subsequent occasion. 

The incidents just related were duplicated in a thou- 
sand instances. The men, taken from all phases of life, 
were utterl} r ignorant of military duty. There was not 
time to put them through a regular graduated course of 
instruction, and they were taught in this eminently 
practical way. 

The next morning, September 10th, the Thirteenth, 
with its brigade companies, marched off on a line about 
parallel to the Baltimore and Ohio railroad. The dis- 
tance covered on that day and the next was short, and 
the marches were comparatively easy. 

Excitement began to be manifested, however, from 
the fact that we began to see evidences that the enemy 
had passed along that way not many days previous. 
There were signs of camps from the ashes where there 
had been fires. The rail fences had disappeared. In 
fact the trail of the military serpent was everywhere 

It was evident to all that we were getting into close 
quarters. There were frequent consultations among the 
officers, and an increase in their earnestness and in the 
severity of their orders. A peculiar atmosphere of im- 
pending disaster surrounded us that was indescribable. 
That sensation is a familiar one to old soldiers, but it 
was our first experience and there was an uncanny 
weirdness about it that was not at all pleasant. 

We were not quite so close upon the enemy, however, 


as we private soldiers imagined, although, as it subse- 
quently transpired, a couple of days more marching 
would bring us in sight of the ''Johnnies." 

On the 12th of September we suddenly came to quite 
a good sized stream. We were told it was the Monoc- 
acy River. 

There were no bridges nor boats ; but an army doesn't 
stop for a little thing like that. We were simply and 
coolly ordered to "cross the river," and so we did. 

Did you ever "ford a river"? 




We were ordered to ford the river. 

The Monocacy River isn't a very formidable stream 
nor is it in the summer season very deep. On this oc- 
casion it came up about to the waist at the place picked 
out as a "ford," although it was deeper above and 
below. But it was our first experience at fording a 
stream, and consequently accompanied with much 

The irrepressible and original John Ick wanted to 
take off his clothes and cross in a state of nature ; but 
to his infinite disgust that would not be permitted, as 
such an operation would take too much time. 

The government does not object, when soldiers are 
marching, to their discarding any superfluous weight in 
the shape of clothing or eatables. But when it comes 
to those things that absolutely pertain to war the case is 
different. One can't throw away guns or ammunition, 
no matter how heavy such things may be — and they 
were heavy enough. On all occasions the greatest care 
must be taken to keep the rifle in good order and the 
cartridges dry. 

In fording a river the cartridge and percussion -cap 
boxes and belts were unstrapped and fastened at the 
bayonet end of the guns. By carrying the rifles on the 
shoulder the ammunition was kept above the water and 
dry. No matter if the contents of the haversack were 
ruined. No matter if the blankets and other wearing 
apparel were saturated. The government cared naught 
for that, so long as the ammunition was intact. 

Even in the summer season it is not pleasant to cross 
a stream containing two or three or four feet of water 
in one's clothes. In the winter time, as many of us 
learned afterward, it is accompanied with little short of 


torture. Id warm weather it is simply a question of 

Several pounds of weight seem to be added to the sol- 
dier's load. The clothing, uncomfortable at the best of 
times, sticks closer than a brother, and clings and pulls 
one's legs with a force almost inconceivable. The wet 
stockings flop about in the coarse aloes with a "ker- 
sock," "ker-sock" that sounds like a suction pump, and 
materially assists in the development of additional 
painful blisters. 

As each man emerges on the other side of the stream, 
he sheds his quota of water, until the ground grows 
soggy and soft and the mud deeper and deeper until it 
is soon, not only ankle-deep, but knee-deep. With one's 
wet clothes increasing the weight, the climb through 
the sticky mud up the embankment of tho stream was a 
tiresome task. It was also a tedious affair, for there is 
always considerable delay in fording a river or creek, 
and then comes that inevitable, wearisome scamper to 
catch up with those who have gone ahead. 

A funny thing it was to see the ammunition mules. 
Each one of these stubborn but interesting animals had 
two large boxes of cartridges slung over his back, one 
on each side. The boxes just cleared the water, if 
everything was all right. But a mule doesn't like 
swiftly running water between his legs. It makes him 
discouraged. And when you discourage a mule his 
usefulness immediately departs. A discouraged mule 
invariably gives up and lies down, no matter where he 
may be. 

The mules had no respect for the strict orders about 
keeping the cartridges dry. One of them lay down in 
the water, rolled over, and shed his load. The other 
mules saw this, and at once caught on to the scheme. 
The practice became epidemic. Mule after mule lay 
down in the middle of the stream, tumbled off his two 
heavy cases of cartridges, righted himself again and 
scrambled up the muddy bank with an expression of 
countenance that failed to indicate the least compunc- 
tion of conscience. Those mules must have been in 
league with the enemy, for I heard one of the officers 
say that they had dumped enough cartridges in the 


Monocacy River that day to fight a good sized battle. 
Every cartridge that got wet was ruined, of course, for 
the powder covering was only paper. 

Fortunately for us we did not march very far after 
fording the river, and when we got into camp all the 
new soldiers took off their wet trousers and stockings 
and hung them on the bushes to dry. As we cooked 
our supper that night we resembled the bouffe soldiers 
in a German opera. 

Johnny Neild came near getting into a fight with 
Reddy Mahar by remarking on the cleanliDess of his 
pedal extremities. 

"I believe that is the first time you ever had your 
feet washed in your life," said Neild. 

"You're a liar!" returned Reddy. 

Neild was going to take it up; butJHank Van Orden 
stepped between them and prevented a continuation of 

On the next day we reached Frederick city, and we 
found that we were getting closer upon the enemy than 
we imagined, that is, closer than we privates imagined. 
I suppose the officers knew all about it all along. The 
rebels had passed through Frederick only the day be- 
fore. Indeed it is said that some of their rear guards 
were found in the city still when our advance guard 
reached the place, and that a few shots were fired. I 
didn't hear anything of that sort, however, or perhaps I 
wouldn't have been so unconcerned. 

My remembrance of Frederick city is a very pleasant 
one. The place consisted in that day, essentially, of 
one large street. I remember being struck particularly 
with a wonder as to what the people did for a living. 
Outside of the stores, there seemed to be no business. 
Brought up within the sound of the hum of the busy 
mills of Paterson, it struck me that there ought to be 
some factories or other evidence of industry. But Frede- 
rick was a "market town" only, which was something 
that in those days I did not understand. 

Frederick is the city made famous by the poet in the 
beautiful poem about "Barbara Fritchie. " To be sure 
later historians have said that there never was a Bar- 
bara Fritchie in Frederick, and that the flag incident 


was a pure romance. But that makes no difference ; 
the story of Barbara Fritchie will always remain asso- 
ciated with Frederick city. 

And by the way they say that "Sheridan's Ride" 
was a fake, and lots of other things are false, including 
tho "Charge of the Light Brigade," the flood and the 
ark, and Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. But 
we're here anyway, and we must have had ancestors, 
and who can dispute that there was an Adam and an Eve? 
I frown upon such, despicable attempts to disprove facts 
by new theories. If it keeps on that way, some busy- 
body will even throw out a suspicion that there are 
romances in this war story. So on general principles I 
stand up for all the interesting old traditions, including 
Barbara Fritchie! 

The alleged incident of Barbara and the flag occurred 
the day before we reached Frederick, so that we didn't 
see it ourselves. But we saw the house from the upper 
window of which she defiantly flaunted the stars and 
stripes. At least I saw every house in Frederick, and 
so can truthfully testify that I saw the Fritchie place of 

I don't know how the citizens of Frederick treated 
the rebel army the day before, but I do know that they 
treated us "bang up." I went into a store and bought 
a pipe and some tobacco, and the proprietor wouldn't 
take a cent. The fact leaking out that cigar dealer's 
stock was soon completely disposed of on the same 
terms. The bakers gave us bread and cake. The citi- 
zens gave us pies and other luxuries, and prett}^ Mary- 
laud girls stood in their doorways with pitchers of milk. 
There could be no discounting the fact of the hospi- 
tality of the people of Frederick city. They knew the 
Union army was coming close behind the rebels, and 
had made considerable preparation for us. The women 
of Frederick served us with sandwiches, cakes, pies, 
roasted chickens, hams, and what not. 

During a temporary halt in the main street of the 
little city the boys were strung along the sidewalks, in 
front of the stores and residences, partaking of a lunch 
that was to us a regular feast. It was my good fortune 
to be served by a very pretty girl of about seventeen or 


eighteen years. As I stood there, leaning against the 
fence of the little door-yard in front of the cottage, with 
a chicken wing in one hand and a glass of milk in the 
other, I ventured into a little conversation with my fair 

"Did you do this for the other fellows?" I asked, 
feeling my ground. 

"You mean the rebels, I suppose," said she. 

"Yes; I didn't say 'rebel,' because I didn't know how 
you would take it." 

"That's all right," said she reassuringly. "That's 
what I call them, anyhow. No, we didn't, as a general 
thing, treat 'the other fellows,' as you call them, in this 
way. Some of the people did, but not many. You see 
the most of us are Union folks. Then again, when the 
rebels passed through they seemed to be in a big hurry. 
Most of the houses and nearly all the stores were closed 
up, till it looked like Sunday. We had been told that 
they were going to clean out all the stores and then set 
fire to the town. We were much frightened, I can 
assure you, and we didn't feel safe until we began to see 
the blue-coated soldiers." 

"So you're a Union girl," I remarked. 

"Yes, sir," she replied. "And I have a brother in 
the Third Maryland " 

"The Third Maryland," I interrupted, "why I be- 
lieve that regiment is in our division — General Wil- 

"Yes; that's the name," she replied. "Fred wrote 
me that General Williams was his commander. Per- 
haps you may meet Fred. ' ' 

"Very likely," I answered. "But what is his last 


"Fred Summers. And what name shall I use when 
I say I saw his sister?" 

"Mabel" (with a slight blush). 

"Is your brother older than you are?" 


"What, younger? He must be a mere boy." 

"He is neither older nor younger," was her answer, 
and she blushed again as she said: "We are twins — 
twin brother and sister." 


"That's nice," said I. "And — and if he is anything 
like his twin sister, Fred must be a handsome fellow." 

I was getting along pretty well considering I hadn't 
known the girl five minutes. But I couldn't help it. I 
really meant it, you know. I never saw a girl blush so 
easily as Mabel Summers did. My last remarks suf- 
fused her face with carnation. Now I come to recall it, 
I don't wonder. 

"Have you any correspondent in the army?" I ven- 

"Oh, yes; my brother." 

"Any one else?" 

"Oh, no." 

"Wouldn't you like to have one?" 

"What do you mean?" 

"I think I would make a good correspondent." 

Another blush on the part of Mabel. 

"I — I hardly think it would be proper. And," with 
a little show of pretty petulance, "I think your sugges- 
tion is a little bold, not to say somewhat impudent." 

"I beg your pardon, Mabel — I mean Miss Summers 
— but you know that soldiers must be bold, not to say 
impudent. ' ' 

This play on her words made her smile, and she 
asked me my name. 

"Joe," I replied. 

I don't know how much further the promising flirta- 
tion would have gone had it not just at this point been 
interrupted by a sergeant, accompanied by a file of men. 
The non-commissioned officers asked me what I was 
doing there? 

"Eating and talking and having a good time," said I. 

"What regiment do you belong to?" asked the ser- 

"Thirteenth New Jersey." 

"What corps?" 

I told him. 

"Don't you know," he asked, "that your command 
started off some time ago? Take him in charge, men" 
(turning to his companions). 

"Who are you?" I asked indignantly, 

"The provost guard," 


That was the first time I had ever heard of such a 
think as the "provost guard," but I considered that it 
was advisable to go along without making any fuss. I 
was greatly surprised to learn that my regiment had 
already started off. 

I turned to bid farewell to the pretty little Frederick 
city girl. A spirit of mischief seized me, and I said : 

"Good-by, Mabel." 

Mabel's blush was on schedule time, as usual, but 
that did not prevent her taking up the implied chal- 
lenge, for she coquettish^ answered : 

"Good-by, Joe." 

That was the first and last time I ever saw Mabel 
Summers. The reader may perhaps think we were both 
a little "fresh" to indulge in such familiarity on such 
short acquaintance; br.t the present generation does 
not understand the feeling that prevailed at that time 
toward the soldier boys. The blue uniform of Uncle 
Sam's service was an open sesame. No one wearing it 
needed an introduction to anybody. The girls seemed 
to regard every soldier as a hero. Perhaps it is better 
for the reputation of some of us that they were never 

I have often wondered what became of Mabel Sum- 
mers. Is she living yet? Perhaps, and possibly a 

But I forgot that I was in the hands of the provost 
guard — a prisoner! 




Let me introduce the reader to the "provost guard." 

The provost guard was what might be called the 
police force of the army. Their duty was to look after 
the recreant soldiers, stragglers, camp followers, hang- 
ers-on, and the like. 

People unacquainted with war often ask how it was 
that there were not more desertions. How was it that 
the men, suffering from the fatigue of the march, the 
hardships and exposures of the camp and the awful 
horror of the battle, did not escape through the pickets 
and run through the guard lines and — go home? 

It was the provost guard that prevented all this. 

Imagine a man in a battle. What is there between 
him and liberty? Behind him are first, the non-com- 
missioned officers, then the commissioned officers; 
then the "turkey buzzards." This consisted of a line 
of cavalry, generally armed with long spears, on the 
end of which were strips of red flannel, the latter curi- 
ous insignia giving them the singularly appropriate 
title of "turkey buzzards." You couldn't get past this 
line without a written pass, or a show of blood issuing 
from a wound. So much for a battle. 

At other times, and practically in fact at all times, 
there were regimental and corps guards and outside 
these the army pickets. Suppose you escaped through 
all these? Everywhere you went, through every city of 
the land, you would meet with soldiers of the provost 
guard, who would arrest you if you couldn't show 
written authority for being absent from your regiment. 

There were provost guards even in Paterson, where I 
lived, perhaps in uniform, maybe not, and more than 


one deserter was arrested there and sent back. If a man 
hadn't a written pass he was considered a deserter. I 
might mention the names of several now prominent 
Patersonians in this connection, but will not. There 
would doubtless have been more if they could have 
similarly succeeded in getting "through the lines." 

Up in the mountains not many miles from many cities 
there were huts and caves that were utilized by deserters 
for months in the latter part of the war. These desert- 
ers were where the provost guard could not find them, 
and they were consequently safe. They came sneaking 
back to town in the night when the war was over. 

Not many deserters suffered the penalty prescribed 
for that offense — being shot. President Lincoln was 
very tender-hearted in this respect. Scores — I might 
perhaps safely say hundreds — of deserters who had been 
sentenced to death were pardoned or had their sentence 
commuted by the kind -hearted president. In all my 
experience I saw only two men shot for desertion. That 
terrible sight I will describe before long. 

The worst penalty suffered by a deserter was what 
might be called the social ostracism to which he was sub- 
jected on his return to his regiment. He was ignored, 
disrespected, and treated with contempt generally in a 
way that was unbearable. No one sympathized with 
him in sickness or trouble, he was put to the hardest 
duties and most menial work, and his life was made 
•such that the poor victim often prayed for death. I 
heard of two men committing suicide because they could 
not stand this treatment from their companions when 
they had returned to the regiment after deserting. It 
is a singular fact that some of the men who wanted to 
— or even tried to — desert were the most severe in their 
treatment of the ones who had succeeded — and been 

If I deserted I would a thousand times rather be shot 
than go back to the regiment. 

The offense for which I had been arrested by the pro- 
vost guard was technically called "straggling." Any 
man who fell out of the ranks or otherwise got behind 
his regiment while on a march, unless taken sick or 
wounded, was called a straggler. It was the most com- 


mon of all army offenses. It was considered the least 
serious. The punishment was scarcely ever anything 
worse than being conducted back to your regimental 
headquarters, and perhaps receiving a mild reprimand 
from the colonel or captain. 

I did not know this then, however, and felt somewhat 
nervous as 1 was waiting my turn to be disposed of at 
the headquarters of the provost guard when the army 
halted that night. I began to think that thirteen was 
an unlucky number for me. I had enlisted in the Thir- 
teenth Begiment and here I was arrested on the 13th of 
September. What had I done? Had I deserted? 
Would I be shot? 

A comical incident interrupted my reverie. I was in 
the midst of some old soldiers. The officers were almost 
as dirty as the men in appearance. Most of them were 
in their undress uniforms and few of them wore shoulder 
straps or other insignia of office. A man in a dark suit, 
which was presumably originally black, was leaning 
against a tree, smoking a briarwood pipe. 

A tall, gawky-looking fellow of gigantic build, being 
over six feet high and heavy in proportion, with long, 
bushy, sandy whiskers, stalked up. Some of the men 
saluted and addressed him as "colonel," although he 
wore no sign of a silver eagle, the insignia of that 
office. The slouchy-looking man smoking the pipe did 
not salute and this seemingly attracted the attention of 
the other. 

The colonel, for such he was, addressed the smoker, 
and asked him gruffly: 

"What are you doing here?" 

"Smoking," was the laconic reply, and not very 
civilly at that. 

"Who the devil are you, anyhow?" asked the colonel. 

"I am the chaplain of the — th Ohio," replied he. 
"Now who in h 1 are you?" 

Such language from a chaplain collapsed the colonel 
and every one else who stood around. The colonel 
looked at the chaplain a moment and said : 

"Good for you, chaplain; I've got some good 'com- 
missary' in my tent. Come along and sample it." 

The colonel and chaplain walked off arm and arm to- 


gether as sociably as if they had known each other for 

For the edification of the reader I will explain that 
"commissary" was the whisky furnished by the gov- 
ernment to the army for medical purposes. The staff 
officers were generally "sick," and this was their pro- 
verbial panacea and preventive. We sick privates were 
fed on blue pills. We never got whisky, unless we 
stole it — which by the way, we occasionally did. The 
door on the wine cellar of the officers was nothing more 
secure than a canvas tent flap, you know ! • 

When my turn came in the line of delinquents I was 
sentenced to nothing worse than to be sent back to my 
regiment under guard, and I reached Company K just 
as the boys were boiliug their coffee for supper. A 
number of others had been similarly picked up by the 
provost guard and brought back, and nothing was said 
about it. 

I found the boys in a state of considerable excite- 
ment. The Dews had leaked out among them somehow 
that we were close upon the rebels. There had even 
been some shooting further out to the front and some 
slightly wounded soldiers had been brought through to 
the rear. 

The pervading sentiment seemed to be that we would 
have a battle on the morrow. Who can describe the 
feelings and emotions of a soldier on the eve of an ex- 
pected battle? As for myself, my mental sufferings 
were acute. 

I supposed then that it was because it was my first 
experience, but I subsequently learned that that did not 
in fact make much difference. I firmly believe that 
with most men each subsequent battle requires more 
nerve to enter. 

"How do you feel. Rats?" I asked Davy Harris. 
We always called him "Eats." It was a name the 
boys in the Guardian office had given him. Harris 
was at that moment very pale. 

Just as I spoke there was a sound of distant musketry. 
It sounded like a far-off explosion of firecrackers. It 
was only an exchange of picket shots. We didn't 
know. We could fairly feel a quiver of quiet excite- 


ment sweep through the camps. For a moment every 
one stopped talking and there was a stillness so impres- 
sive that the crackling of the camp fires sounded like 
pistol shots. Then there was a low murmur of many 
voices. That I had turned pale myself I could feel. 

As soon as I could get my self -possession again, and 
saw that general conversation had been resumed with 
the cessation of the shooting, I repeated my question to 
Davy Harris as to his personal emotions at that par- 
ticular moment. 

Davy did not reply for a minute or so. Then he 
quietly arose, turned his back to me, and emphatically 
ordered : 

"Kick me!" 

"What?" I asked, not fairly understanding. 

"Kick me!" 

"What do you mean, anyhow?" 

"Kick me!" Davy answered for the third time, a la 
Amelie Rives when she wrote her famous three-time 
"Kiss Me!" 

Then I saw what he meant. It was his expressive 
way of indicating his feelings in response to my inquiry 
as to how he felt then and there on the eve of an ex- 
pected battle. He offered no explanation of his singular 
reply, nor was any needed. He simply wanted me to 
kick him for enlisting I felt the same way myself. I 
would have liked to have some one kick me then and 
there for listening to the persuasive eloquence of the 
patriotic orators on the steps of the old Main Street bank 
building in Pa Person whose speeches had induced me to 
enlist. I should also have liked to have kicked those 
self -same orators ! 

Some great things had happened that day, of which 
we privates did not know at the time, nor for a long 
while after, for it remained for the newspapers and the 
historians to tell what had taken place. 

Some of these things will be related in the next chap- 




As said in the previous chapter, some great things 
had occurred on that day (September 13, 1862), which 
we did not know about at the time. Upon that day- 
General Lee issued an order directing Stonewall Jack- 
son to proceed to Harper's Ferry by the way of Sharps- 
burg, where he was to cross the Potomac River and 
thus make a rear movement, while at the same time 
General McLaws was to go direct, by the way of Mid- 
dletown, and seize Maryland Heights, while General 
Walker was to cross the river below Harper's Ferry 
and take possession of Loudon Heights. The same 
order of General Lee contained the information that the 
remainder of the Confederate army would remain in the 
neighborhood of Boonesborough or Hagerstown, and stay 
there till rejoined by the troops detailed for the capture 
of Harper's Ferry. 

Harper's Ferry was, from a warlike standpoint, a 
most important strategic point. It is a cleft or opening 
in the mountains, where two rivers join. The letter Y 
is about the shape of the confluence of the Potomac and 
Shenandoah Rivers. On one side of the Potomac are 
Maryland Heights, on the other side, Loudon Heights, 
and the third mountain is called Bolivar Heights. It 
is a natural gateway, the only passage through which 
is the narrow road along the side of the river. The 
Chesapeake and Ohio canal runs along the river on the 
Maryland side. It will be thus appreciated, even by 
the reader who has no knowledge whatever of military 
matters, that this was a most important strategic point. 

If General Lee obtained possession of this it would 
give him the key to an important position. That is the 


reason that Harper's Ferry played such an important 
part in many instances during the course of the war. 
It is not my province here to dilate upon the cowardly 
manner in which Harper's Ferry was evacuated in the 
face of the enemy at about this time. 

Well, this important order of General Lee, involving 
the whole plan and scheme of the rebel army, in some 
mysterious way fell into the hands of General McClel- 
lan a few hours after it was issued. It was said that 
General McClellan had a copy of it as soon as the gen- 
erals on the rebel side, to whom duplicates had been 
addressed. How General McClellan got that order no 
one e^er knew. Some said that it was procured by a 
scout. Others that it came through the hands of a spy. 
Still others say that it was sold to the Northern general 
by a Confederate officer, the same as the secret plans of 
the French were recently sold to the Germans, for which 
the traitorous officer was sentenced to imprisonment on 
an island for life. If this be so, the officer in this case 
was never captured by the Confederates. If he had 
been, his bones would have long since been transformed 
into another shape of elementary substance of a cereal 
character, for those grounds are now covered with corn 
and wheat fields. 

As said frequently before, this war story is not in- 
tended as a military history, but rather as the experi- 
ence of a private soldier in the ranks; but at the same 
time this particular circumstance is so interesting and 
has such a direct bearing on subsequent events, that I 
thought it would not be amiss to give it. Of course we 
privates did not know anything about all these things 
at the time. Perhaps only the very highest officers in 
the army were acquainted with the circumstances. All 
that we knew at the time was that there was every in- 
dication of a coining engagement of some sort, for that 
we were in close proximity to the enemy there was 
every sign. 

General McClellan, taking advantage of the impor- 
tant information he had so mysteriously gained, pro- 
ceeded to make a movement that would head off Gen- 
eral Lee. He started his army immediately toward 
South Mountain, which was a high, rocky hill, between 


Hagerstown and Sharpsburg. By doing this he would 
cut right in the middle of the Confederate army. And 
there is nothing in the world that is so dangerous to an 
army as to be divided by the enemy. 

To come back to our feelings and sensations on the 
eve of an expected battle ! We had around our camp- 
fire that night some of the old veterans of the Third 
Wisconsin, one of the other regiments of our brigade. 
Naturally the conversation turned to the coming con- 
flict and the subject of battles generally. 

After our visitor had got us pretty well alarmed 
over the horrors of a battle, and mj'self in particular 
in a state of nervousness bordering on hysteria, he 
asked : 

"By the way, boys, have you formed your clubs?" 

We asked him what he meant by clubs? 

"Well, you see," replied he, "if there is a battle the 
chances are that some of you will be killed" (and how 
glibly he uttered the awful word). "In that case it is 
a, good thing to have a club." 

I wished somebody would club me. 

"The idea of a club is this," he continued, while we 
were listening with mouths and ears wide open. "The 
plan is to divide yourselves up in clubs of three men. 
The chances are that the whole three will not be killed. 
You give each other your names and addresses of the 
relatives or friends at home whom you would wish to be 
notified in case anything happened. Then the fellow 
that comes out all right can send word at once in case 
anything happens." 

"But don't the officers report all these things. Don't 
the newspaper correspondents send the list of names by 
telegraph to their papers?" I asked, with journalistic 

"Oh, pshaw, that don't amount to nothing," was the 
reply. "These fellows get all the news they can, of 
course; but they don't get half. In a battle everything 
is all mixed up. Men are killed and they are stripped 
of their clothes and everything in their pockets so that 
they do not leave a trace of who they are. Then fellows 
get captured by the rebs, and wounded men fall into 
the hands of the graybacks, and some are left on the 


battlefield to die alone and no one ever hears what be- 
comes of them. In this case you can write to their 
friends that they are 'missing.' But as a general thing 
the three men in a club can keep track of each other, 
whatever happens. I tell you clubs are a good thing. 
In fact clubs are trumps." 

The idea struck me like joining a suicide club, but at 
the same time it could not be doubted that it was a good 
thing. We immediately decided to form ourselves into 
a club. The club to which I attached myself consisted 
of Sergeant Heber Wells, John Butter worth and my- 
self. And it is a singular fact that all three of us are 
alive to- day. There were soon decimations in many of 
the clubs, but none of our particular three had to send a 
letter breaking the news of a death in our trio. Two 
of us were, however, wounded in the battle of Chancel- 
lorsville, but the news of that got home quickly enough. 

I can't say that this club business was very pleasant. 
It seemed like writing one's own epitaph, or engraving 
one's own name on his coffin-plate. It made me very 
nervous and downhearted. I felt sure that I was the 
one of our three whose name would be the first to be 
sent home among the list of killed. 

I didn't sleep much that night. I could think of 
nothing but fighting and being shot. I wondered how 
it felt to be shot. Did it hurt much? Was the agony 
awful? I had never seen anything shot but a dog. 

A hundred times I recalled the shooting of that dog, 
how he yelped and writhed, kicked and struggled! 
Imagine a human being writhing and struggling in 
that way ! Imagine me — me, writhing and struggling 
in that way, in mortal agony ! In fitful dreams I saw 
the shooting of that dog again, and it seemed as if I 
were the dog, yelping and writhing and struggling in 
my death agony. 

Then I dreamed that I was at home, in bed, in my 
little front room in Fair Street, with the aquarium at 
the window and the canary bird in his painted cage. I 
dreamed that I dreamed. I dreamed that I awoke from 
a dream — a horrible dream — that I had been in the 
army, and that there was going to be a battle. I dreamed 
that I awoke from the horrible dream and found that 


it was a nightmare, and that I got out of bed and knelt 
beside it and thanked God that it was but a dream and 
nothing worse. Thank heaven, that it was but a 
dream ! Thank heaven, I had not enlisted ! Thank 
heaven, I was at my home, safe and secure, and that 
the only warlike sound I would hear in the morning 
would be the bell calling me down to a breakfast of 
broiled chicken and muffins. 

Sleep on, soldier ! Pleasant be thy dream ! For the 
morrow ye know not ! 




It was not the breakfast bell at my home in Fair 
Street that awoke me the next morning, but that ever- 
lasting drum sounding the reveille that had become so 
painfully familiar. After the vivid dream of home 
related in the previous chapter, the awakening to a 
sense of my surroundings was a severe shock. But 
there was too much excitement around camp to spend 
much time in gloomy reveries. 

It is perhaps good for the soldier that there is such 
incessant activity while at the front. It occupies his 
time and takes all his mind, so that there is not much 
opportunity to sit down and think. And when night 
comes the soldier is generally so fatigued that he sinks 
at once into a leaden-like slumber. It was not often 
that the soldier dreams as I had dreamed the night before. 

"I tole you fellers," said John Ick as he was boiling 
his coffee, "we got by dot schlaughter haus to-day, and 
don'd you forgot dot." Then turning to Reddy Mahar, 
who seemed to be his natural enemy, he added : 

"You don'd was so fresh yourselluf, Retty. You 
don'd vant to fight so much alretty, eh?" 

"Be jabbers and I wish I was home, that's phwat I 
does," answered Reddy very meekly. 

"No, you don'd vant to fight so much as you was by 
Washington, don'd it? I don'd was no cowyard now, 
ain't it?" 

"Shut up, you fellows," said John Stansfield, think- 
ing there was going to be a repetition of the racket be- 
tween these two in Washington. But there was no 
danger. There was no fight in either of them. John 
Ick seemed at the moment to be outwardly the least 
concerned, but it was evident that it was only put on, 


for the occcasion. Ick apparently wanted to arouse the 
ire of his old adversary for the purpose of creating some 
sort of a diversion, but it was a failure. He might 
have kicked Mahar just then, and I doubt if he would 
have taken it up. 

It was not long before we heard fighting of some sort 
further at the front. The musket shots started in first 
in little spurts, two or three at a time. Then there 
would be a volley that sounded like a rattle — like one of 
those wooden concerns that the boys hold in their hands 
and whirl around. Then something else — more warlike 
than all ! Listen ! 

' ' Hark ! Tis the cannon's opening roar ! " 

I shall never forget the first time I heard a cannon 
fired in the army. And this was the morning. 


And the hills echoed and re-echoed with the roar, like 
lowering thunder. 

Whiz — whiz — whiz — whiz — whiz — ! 

Say it as fast as you can. Start with the voice loud 
and strong. Then with each reiterated "whiz" let the 
voice fall, diminishing in force. Try it : 

Whiz — whiz — whiz — whiz — whiz — ! 

That is the sound of the rifled shell flying through 
the air. Then — 

Crash ! 

At it smashes through the trees, or splinters the rocks, 
or richochets along the ground. Then, again, another — 


As the shell explodes, its fragments fly in every di- 
rection, scattering destruction and death in its wake. 

And if you are near enough to where it struck, and 
there is any one in the way, there is another sound. 

It is the shrieking, the yelling, the cursing of those 
who have been rent asunder by those terrible fragments, 
and yet have enough life left to suffer. 

Why is it that men curse and blaspheme when 
wounded, instead of praying? 

I am describing here the first cannon shots that I ever 
heard. The part relative to the curse does not apply to 
this particular day, but to subsequent experiences. On 


the day in question we were not close enough to the 
front to hear the cries of the severely wounded, but we 
did hear the roar of the cannon and we heard lots of it. 

Once the shooting of the cannon had commenced, 
there was a good deal of it. It was some distance fur- 
ther out in the front, but we could hear it plainly 
enough. It was a continual "Boom — whiz — crash!" 
for several hours. 

And it f ormod the bass and baritone for the soprano 
and tenor of the musket shots. Once or twice, far back 
as we were, we heard the peculiar singing of a rifle 
bullet. This can be best expressed in type this way : 

"Z-z-z-z-z-z-z-zip !" 

The"z-z-z" represents the course of the bullet through 
the air. The "zip" is the sound of its striking some- 

Imagine a mosquito buzzing around, and then the 
slap on the cheek that puts him (and you) out of mis- 
ery, and you will have a fair idea, on a small scale, of 
the sound of a minnie rifle bullet. 

That all this shooting further out in the front was no 
Fourth of July nonsense soon began to be evident, for 
the wounded soldiers began to stream in. 

It was our first sight of the real horrors of battle. 

We were too close to the front for any of the wounded 
to be attended to by the surgeons without passing 
through us to the improvised field hospitals, designated 
by small yellow flags on staves stuck in the ground, to 
the rear of us. Thus it was that we saw the wounded, 
not with their injuries concealed by neat white band- 
ages, but in all their grewsome nakedness. 

Of course these were the men who were "slightly" 
wounded — those who were able to walk. A wonderful 
number were shot in the arm and hand. There were 
lacerated fingers and thumbs ; useless arms, held up by 
the others unhurt ; men with the tips of their noses shot 
off; soldiers with the fragment of an ear hanging down 
alongside of their necks ; men painfully limping from 
the effects of shots in the leg or foot; officers and pri- 
vates with blood streaming over their faces from scalp- 
wounds — the most terrible of all to look at, but in 
reality the least dangerous. All these hurried to the 
doctors in the rear. 


What struck me was the utter nonchalance of the 
wounded. Of those able to walk, no matter how des- 
perately hurt they seemed to be, no matter how bloody 
they were, none uttered a cry or a complaint. On the 
contrary they seemed to be remarkably cheerful and 
chipper. Had those men been similiarly injured in civil 
life they would have indulged in vehement demonstra- 
tions of agony. 

But when a man is wounded in the army, it seems as 
if his system, both mental and physical, were nerved up 
to it. And furthermore there is a feeling of inexpres- 
sible exultation over the fact that one has escaped some- 
thing worse, and the victim is also braced up with the 
knowledge that for awhile at least he will have no 
fighting to do, and that there is a good prospect of his 
getting a furlough to go home and see his family. 

I did not appreciate all this at the moment and so was 
struck with the apparent unconcern of those who had 
been wounded. When I was wounded myself on a sub- 
sequent occasion, I learned to understand these things. 

And furthermore, when a man is shot, if it be not in 
a vital spot, the immediate pain is not severe. The real 
agony comes later, when inflammation begins to set in, 
and the entire system is involved with the fever that 
invariably follows gunshot wounds sooner or later. If 
you want to know how it feels to be shot through the 
leg, for instance, let some one throw a stone from across 
the street so that it will strike you. There will be a 
sharp sting, followed by a sort of numbness. That is 
almost exactly the sensation of being shot through a 
muscular part of the body. 

But afterward — when the fever begins ! Then there 
are long and tedious days and nights of intolerable 

Pretty soon the more severely wounded began to come 
through on stretchers, carried on blankets with the 
sound men holding each corner ; or being lifted by the 
legs and arms in the most primitive way. 

We were lying near the town of Boonesborough. 
Here the wounded were taken. The churches, school- 
houses and even residences taken possession of as hos- 
pitals became at once the scenes of surgical butchery. I 
use this word in no offensive sense. 


And yet, one week previous, the people of Boones- 
borough had no more idea that they would be in the 
immediate theater of actual war than had the people of 
the quietest town in the country. Imagine the feelings 
of the women and children on seeing their homes sud- 
denly filled with mutilated and bleeding soldiers, 
spread in rows along the floor of the parlor and dining 
room ! And yet one week — in fact two days — before, 
there were no more signs of such a thing happening in 
that particular town than there is to-day, I might almost 

What were my feelings all this time? I can hardly 
describe them. We lay there momentarily expecting to 
be ordered into the thick of the fray ourselves ! We 
did not know at what minute our turn would come, or 
how soon some of us might swell the number of muti- 
lated human beings going back to the surgeon's knife. 
As for myself I remember that I was in a state border- 
ing on a panic. I was almost out of my head. In fact 
I was mentally and physically almost paralyzed. I 
moved about in a misty, hazy sort of a way, hardly 
knowing where I was or what I was doing. 

There was not much talk among the boys that day. 
The same listless, despairing spirit seemed to prevade 


What was going on? We didn't know. What bat- 
tle was it? We didn't know. All that we knew was 
that there was a scene of carnage being enacted some- 
where out there a little further in front, where human 
beings were being torn to pieces. And all that we 
thought of was that our turn to take part in the awful 
scene would soon come. 

"What do you think of it?" I asked Davy Harris as 
he threw himself on the grass beside me. 

Harris was very pale. He replied : 

"I think " 

The sentence was not completed. It was interrupted 
by the order : 

"Fall in, Thirteenth!" 

Davy Harris and I exchanged nervous glances. 

"Our turn has come, Joe," said he quietly. 




Of course we thought surely that our turn had come 
and that we were about to be precipitated into a battle. 
Does the reader wonder that we were demoralized? 
Consider the situation. 

We had barely entered the service. As a matter of 
fact it was only two weeks since we had left the mus- 
tering camp at Newark. The most of us had never 
fired a gun in our lives with the exception of the single 
volley over the canal at Camp Frelinghuysen in the 
battalion drill. We had had no experience, but little 
drilling, and were practically as ignorant of military 
movements as we were on the day we enlisted. 

We had entered the army with the idea of course that 
we would some day in the future be precipitated into 
an engagement, but we did not imagine that we would 
be thus summarily hustled from our homes to the bat- 
tlefield without being hardened and prepared for it by 
degrees, as it were. In the whole course of the war I 
do not believe there ever was a regiment so suddenly 
engaged in a battle after entering the service as the 
Thirteenth New Jersey. 

It so happened that we did not get into a fight that 
day, nor for a couple of days later, but the same remark 
holds good about the remarkably short time that existed 
between the time of our enlistment and our experience 
in actual warfare, in one of the most sanguinary of con- 

I believe that if we had really been ordered into a 
fight that day I would have fainted from terror and 
nervous weakness. But fortunately, at least for me, 
we didn't get into that battle. It was only one of those 


mysterious movements that were so frequent — a change 
of position. There may have been some reason for these 
constant changes, and again there may not have been. 
I still incline to the latter idea. But nevertheless, it 
did seem as if we were forever changing our position 
and moving from this spot to that without any sense or 
reason whatever. That was all it amounted to on this 

And to our intense satisfaction and relief there was a 
sudden cessation of the firing in the front. Whatever 
had been going on, it had evidently come to a settle- 
ment some way. 

What we had heard, as we learned later, was the en- 
gagement that has gone into history as the battle of 
South Mountain. It wasn't a long engagement, but it 
was an important one, and had it been properly followed 
up and had the other departments of the army properly 
co-operated, the result would have been of inestimable 
value to the Northern army. 

General McClellan had captured the South Mountain 
passes at the engagement at Turner's Gap, although not 
without considerable loss. The Confederate loss in this 
engagement at South Mountain has been put down at 
about 3,000, including some prisoners. The loss on both 
sides in the shape of killed, wounded and prisoners, was 
perhaps 5,000. This is not much of a battle compared 
with some of the fights during the war, but it was a con- 
siderable one just the same, even in these days, as will 
be seen by comparing the number with that of some of 
the recent engagements between the Japs and Chinese, 
with all the former's advantage of improved weapons 
and ammunition. 

And by the way, is the reader of this a sufficient stu- 
dent of history to notice the fact that as civilization 
progresses and the means of killing people are facilited, 
the losses in battle continually decrease? The accepted 
theory is that eventually the instruments of wholesale 
slaughter and death will be so perfected that a fight be- 
tween two armies will mean nothing less than total 
annihilation of one or the other; that this will reach 
such a stage that war will cease to be possible, and that 
the differences of the future will be settled by arbitra- 


tion instead of by recourse to arms. But the facts do 
not bear this out. Histor}^ tells us that they had a good 
deal more extensive list of fatalities in olden times than 
at present, which, if the records are correct, suggest 
some strange comparisons. 

Modern warfare has been aptly described as an im- 
proved and scientific way of throwing stones. In olden 
times a battle was more in the nature of a hand-to-hand 
conflict and the number of killed and wounded was 
undoubted l} r larger. 

At the battle of Cressy the arms of the English Prince 
of Wales were won by Edward, the Black Prince. 
Among the killed on the side of the French was the 
King of Bohemia, whose crest was three ostrich feathers 
and the motto "Ich Dien" (I serve). At the conclusion 
of the battle the crest and the motto were adopted by 
the Black Prince, and have ever since been worn by the 
Prince of Wales. I interpolate this simply as an inter- 
esting fact. What I wanted to say was that at that 
battle the French went into the fight with nearly 100,000 
men and at the close of the day the French king fled 
with five knights and sixty soldiers. Over 40,000 men 
had been killed or wounded and the rest of the army 
had scattered in every direction. 

At the battle of Borodino there were 250,000 men en- 
gaged, and in one day 78.000, or 31 per cent., had been 
killed and wounded. Every woman in France wore 
mourning after that battle. In the Roman army of 
146, 00§ men, the loss was 52,000 or 34 per cent., at the 
battle of Cannae. All the prisoners were massacred, 
and Hannibal, the victor, sent to Carthage five bushels 
of gold rings taken from the fingers of the enemy's 
knights that were killed. 

As the Battle of a Week, in 732 a.d., in which 
Martel overthrew the Saracens, there were 550,000 men 
engaged, of whom 375,000 were killed on the field. 
This was the bloodiest battle of history, and yet the 
arms at the time must have been of an extremely primi- 
tive character. Among the 140,000 who participated 
at Waterloo, the loss was 51,000. In the Battle of Na- 
tions at Leipsig in 1813, there were 320,000 men 


engaged, and the loss was 111,000. Of the 320,000 en- 
gaged at Gravelotte, the killed and wounded numbered 
48,000. At Marengo, in which 58,000 were engaged, 
the loss was 13,000. 

To afford a comparison with our late war, I will cite 
the battle of Gettysburg as an example. In this en- 
gagement there were 140,000 men opposed to each other. 
The loss in killed, wounded and missing during the three 
days' righting at Gettysburg, was — Federal, 28,898; 
Confederate, 37,000; total, 65,898. That is between 25 
and 30 per cent. But this was not only the largest battle 
of the war, but the loss was proportionately the great- 
est. The average loss in battle, according to statistical 
historians who have made a study of "our late un- 
pleasantness," was not over 10 or 12 per cent. 

And yet, during the late war, compared with the 
armies of old times, the troops were equipped with 
modern and improved arms, and naturally it might be 
supposed that the mortality would be all the greater. 

The records of losses during the last war (between the 
United States and Spain) are not complete, so that they 
may be only roughly stated, viz. : Americans killed at 
and around Santiago, from 260 to 270 ; wounded, about 
1,600. Killed in naval encounters at Bahio Honda and 
other points on the north coast of Cuba, 5 or 6. Killed 
at Porto Rico, 5 or 6 ; wounded 60 or 70. Killed in the 
capture of Manila and attendant skirmishes, 40 or 50 ; 
wounded, about 200. In addition to these, several thou- 
sand American soldiers and sailors died of disease in 
camp, the estimated number being, according to latest 
reports, about 2,600. A rough aggregate would make 
the total American loss in the war (including the de- 
struction of the Maine), about 3,236 killed (and died), 
and about 5,356 wounded. These are believed to be the 
outside figures. Official and complete reports would 
probably show a sight diminution. 

The Spanish losses may only be estimated, as follows : 
At Santiago, killed, 2,000; wounded, 6,000. Killed in 
the destructioruof Cervera's fleet, 600 to 700 ; wounded, 
400. How many were lost by the Spanish in the other 
engagements will probably never be known, for no fig- 
ures have ever been given out of Spain's loss in the 


memorable destruction of Montojo's fleet by the match- 
less Admiral Dewey on May 1, 1898. 

The last battles between the United States forces and 
the Filippino insurgents under Aguinaldo in the Philip- 
pine Islands are too recent and the information too 
indefinite to present very reliable figures. In the battle 
at Manila in February, 1899, the American losses are 
believed to have been about 40 or 50 killed and perhaps 
250 wounded. The Filippino losses are estimated at from 
1,500 to 2,000 killed and about 3,000 wounded. This 
was really a large battle, for there were no less than 
32,000 men engaged— 13,000 Americans and 20,000 

The total strength of the American army in the Span- 
ish war was 274,717. The war began on Thursday, 
April 21, 1898, at 7 a.m. The peace protocol was 
signed at Washington, D. C, on Friday, August 12, 
1898, at 4: 23 p.m. The treaty of peace was signed by 
the joint American and Spanish commission in Paris 
on December 10, 1898. The treaty was ratified by the 
United States senate on Monday, February 6, 1899, at 
3s»25 P.M. 

A comparison of the number of men enlisted in the 
war with Spain and in previous wars by the United 
States may in this connection be interesting. In the 
Revolutionary war the number did not exceed 250,000. 
In the civil war there were 2,320«,168 Federal troops, of 
whom 178,975 werecolored and 6V,000 regulars. In the 
war of 1812 there were 471,622, of whom 62,674 were 
regulars. In the Mexican war there were 116,321, of 
whom 42,545 were regulars. In the war with Spain our 
troops numbered 219,035 volunteers (of whom 10,189 
were colored), and 55,682 were regulars, a total of 

I interpolate these statistics here as being interest- 
ing and appropriate, inasmuch as they give the 
reader an idea of the size and extent of the battle of 
South Mountain. To the private soldier a battle 
is a battle, and it practically makes little difference to 
him, as an individual, whether tbe loss is 1,000 or 100,- 
000. The effect on the army or the country, however, 



is more or less important, according to the numerical 
and strategical results 

The battle of South Mountain, although not a large 
one, as battles go, was nevertheless an important one, 
for it gave General McClellan the opportunity he de- 
sired of cutting the rebel army in two and relieving the 
Federal garrison at Harper's Ferry. 

But the disgraceful and utterly inexcusable surrender 
of Harper's Ferry defeated this purpose. Colonel Miles 
had 12,000 men, 73 pieces of artillery, and an immense 
quantity of military stores and supplies, and he should 
have defended such an important place to the last man. 
But he surrendered. He saw the signs of the big rebel 
army, and capitulated without terms or conditions. 

The cowardly act, however, met with instant retribu- 
tion. While Colonel Miles was in the very act of hoist- 
ing a white Hag in token of surrender, he was struck by 
a cannon ball and instantly killed. There is an old 
adage that it is not well to speak ill of the dead. But it 
was a fortunate thing for Colonel Miles that he was 
killed as he was, for it blunted the rough edge of popu- 
lar indignation that was expressed at his conduct. In 
those exciting days there was little sympathy for a com- 
manding officer who had the reputation of being a cow- 
ard. Had Colonel Miles lived long enough to have 
heard the criticism over his surrender of Harper's 
Ferry he would probably have committed suicide. 

Now that Harper's Ferry had been lost General Mc- 
Clellan changed his plans and directed his entire atten- 
tion to the main army of General Lee, and then com- 
menced the movements that a day or so later precipi- 
tated us into one of the great conflicts of the war — the 
battle of Antietam. 

In that bloody battle the Thirteenth New Jersey regi- 
ment received its "baptism of fire." 




After the battle of South Mountain, General Lee, 
who saw that General McClellan meant business, found 
what military men would call "a strong position" on 
the west side of Antietam creek, and proceeded to get 
his army in readiness to meet the pursuing Union army. 
In telling this, of course, I am writing in the light of 
subsequent knowledge. Of course at the time we knew 
nothing more of what was going on, or what was com- 
ing, or indeed what had passed, than so many sheep in 
a drove. 

But at the same time we felt, rather than positively 
knew, that the army was getting into position for a 
great conflict. There was a hurrying and scurrying of 
mounted officers and messengers, an anxious look on 
the faces of the higher officers over us that we fre- 
quently met or passed, and an air of general importance 
and preparation, not manifest on other occasions, that 
gave the soldier a knowledge that a battle was immi- 
nent. It was evident even to us raw recruits, who had 
scarcely been a fortnight away from our homes. Much 
more were these movements and preparations under- 
stood by the older and more experienced soldiers. 

"We all knew, therefore, that we were about to be 
plunged into a battle, and as practically the whole of 
the Federal and Confederate armies of Virginia were 
pitted against each other, it would be a battle royal 
and a terrible conflict. 

And, by the way, speaking of Com pan y K and the 
other company from Paterson and vicinity, Company 
C, we had hardly yet become acquainted with each 
other. We had enlisted in haste, had been hurried off 
to the front so quickly, and had been kept on such con- 
stant movement, that there had been no chance to be- 


come acquainted outside of our own immediate coteries, 
so to speak. We were simply a big crowd of compara- 
tive strangers. 

Soldiers in the army always divide themselves into 
couples. Every man has his partner (usually called 
"pard"), and they were to each other almost man and 
wife. I will not go into this right here, for my present 
partner was one with whom I only had a comparatively 
short connection, and the ordinary relations between 
"pards" did not prevail. My partner, or bed-mate, 
just then was Heber Wells, the orderly sergeant of the 
company. I could not call him a tent-mate, for we had 
no tents at this time, having left our Sibleys at Rock- 
ville, and the "shelter" or "pup tents" had not yet been 
given out to us. In another stage of the story I will 
have something to say about the man who was essentially 
"my partner," John Butterworth, with whom I was 
thrown in accidentally, as it were, but whom I found 
to be one of the best of fellows and a "partner" in more 
senses than one. 

Heber Wells was the orderly sergeant. He was the 
busiest man in the company. He had to call the rolls, 
attend to all the company reports, and in other respects 
do the work of the commissioned officers, so that he was 
kept at it all the while and did not have opportunity to 
spend much time with the gatherings and groups of the 
privates. He was always a gentleman, always a good 
friend, always a brave man, and always carried himself 
with a dignity that was inborn. 

Then there was John Stansfield, always full of fun, 
but at the same time dignified. Two other characters 
were also already familiar to the whole company — 
"Slaughter House Ike" and "Reddy Mabar," the 
former particularly, not only on account of his peren- 
nial wit, but because of his everlasting penchant to get 
into trouble. 

I might also mention my old printer associates, David 
Harris, Liv. Allen and Curt Brown, and such men as 
Abe Ackerman, James J. Vanderbeck, James W. Post, 
John J. Carlough, Daniel S. Wanamaker, Samuel 
Dougherty, John Anderson, Jacob Berdan, Henry 
Clark, John Farlow, Alexander Kidd, Archibald Mc- 


Call, George Mickle, Henry Speer, Thomas Vander- 
beck, Charles Noble, William Lambert, and others who 
were acquaintances by this time, and the most of whom 
are living to-day. There were plenty of others in the 
company with whom I became acquainted afterward, but 
the above about comprised the limit of personal ac- 
quaintances at the time mentioned, and I particularly 
remember them as we were approaching the place where 
we were to engage in our first real fighting. 

John Ick had the "slaughter-house" fever bad just 
then. He broke out every five minutes with some re- 
mark about the "shambles" and every wounded man 
that came along was the signal for a fresh outbreak. 
But there was no reprimand or fun cast at John Ick at 
this time, for we all felt the same way, and to a great 
extent he expressed our sentiments. 

In speaking for myself in saying that I was in a per- 
petual state of nervous fright, I think I can speak for 
the rest. Once when a lad, I had come near drowning. 
I was under the water long enough to remember every- 
thing that I had ever done in my life. I remember to 
this day how the bad things stood out in the boldest 
relief. Things that I then considered very wicked per- 
haps would not trouble my conscience so much nowa- 
days, but the smallest offense seemed a great sin then 
and it was pictured before me like a panorama. 

So it was now. I felt as sure that I was going to be 
killed as I did when I was under the water when a lad. 
I thought over my comparatively short life and every- 
thing that I had done. I wished that I had not done 
somethings. I wished that I had lived a better life, 
that I was a member of the church and in other respects 
better. In fact I thought I was going to die, and I was 
afraid, not so much of the simple dying, as of the mj-s- 
terious hereafter. In fact I felt afraid to die, and I am 
sure that I mentally made up my mind that if I got 
through with this all right, I would lead a better life. 

But alas, that is the rule always. 

" When the devil was sick, the devil a monk would be. 
When the devil was well, the devil a monk was he." 

In other words I am afraid that after the big battle 


that came and passed I was wickeder than ever. Such 
is life. 

I remember plainly what Henry Spear said to me. 

"It is all right for you young fellows, who have no 
one to depend upon you. But just think of me and the 
others who have wives and families." 

"That's all right," said I, "but don't you suppose 
ve young fellows like to live as well as you older ones?" 

"Perhaps; but you have no one depending on you and 
that makes all the difference. I don't think of myself 
at all, but of my wife and children." 

"That's true," said Heber Wells, who had heard the 
conversation; "if you had a family depending on you 
you would feel different." 

"And are you not afraid for your own self?" I asked. 

"Of course I do not want to be killed," answered 
Henry Spear; "but that is nothing compared with the 
thought of family." 

I was young then. I had my doubts about it. True 
I had no family depending on me, but I had bright 
prospects and — well, I had the picture of a pretty girl 
in my pocket who perhaps might grieve, and perhaps 
might not. On the whole I didn't think she would — 
much. But I was scared for myself, and I honestly be- 
lieve the others were too. I did not have any family 
excuse to cover up my fear. And yet, seriously, in the 
light of later experience, I can appreciate the fact that 
this must have added materially to the mental suffer- 
ings of the men who imagined they were going to their 

All this time we were marching and countermarch- 
ing, going hither and thither, as if the commanding 
officers were not quite satisfied where they did want us 
to stand. Late in the afternoon on September 15, 1862, 
the advance troops of our army reached the front of the 
enemy and preparations were at once made for the big 
battle that was expected to begin the following morning. 

That was not a pleasant night. We were in a state 
of nervous expectancy, and as we sat around the camp 
fires we discussed the awful possibilities of the morrow. 
The little "club" to which I belonged gave each other 
the directions as to what to do in case anything hap- 


pened to any one of the three. We carefully went over 
the addresses of each other's relatives at home, and mu- 
tually agreed to stand by each other in case any of us 
were wounded. In fact we made arrangements that 
impressed me as being very much like the preparations 
for a funeral. Which of us would be the corpse? The 
comrade from the Third Wisconsin who had suggested 
the idea had told us that there was no likelihood of all 
three being killed. One might. Perhaps two might. 
But the chances were that at least one of the three would 
escape. Who would it be? I hoped that I would be 
the one, but I had my doubts about it. 

Was this cowardice? Was I a coward? Perhaps I 
was. But I really believe that if I was a coward for 
feeling this way, then ninety-nine hundredths of the 
army were cowards. It is not natural that any man, 
or any animal for that matter, should not be nervous 
and apprehensive in the face of impending death. If 
this feeling was cowardice, then truly I was a coward. 
I guess I was never cut out for a soldier, at least the 
kind that have to fight. I wished that I had joined the 
"home guards." 

When the reveille sounded the next morning we all 
arose and looked at each other in a strange way. We 
did not talk much, but the glance that each man gave 
the other was a silent inquiry or interchange of feeling. 
Nearly every man was pale, and everybody's eyes bore 
the appearance of having passed a wakeful night. In a 
listless way we prepared and tried to eat a little break- 
fast, but there was no taste to it, and we had no appe- 
tite. And when the order to "fall in" came, we got 
into the ranks in a slow, despairing sort of way, as if 
we had given up all hope — the sort of way that a con- 
demned prisoner pulls himself together to walk to the 

Let a man of that regiment say, if he truthfully can, 
that he felt differently from the way I have tried to 

But we did not get into the battle that day. They 
say that "hope deferred maketh the heart sick." I can- 
not say that the delay in this made any of our hearts 
very ill. But at the same time it was a painful wait, 


withal. When a man has an aching tooth to be pulled 
he wants to have it hurried through and be done with, 
and the same sentiment prevailed now. We thought 
that we would rather be plunged into the unknown 
horror of the battle and be done with it than have to 
much longer suffer this terrible suspense. 

I am only endeavoring to describe the feelings of a 
private soldier on the eve of his first battle. The de- 
scription is tame and unsatisfactory at the best. I feel 
that I have greatly underestimated the sensations. 

We moved that day with Mansfield's corps, to which 
we were attached, to the neighborhood of Keedysville, 
where we remained all day. The preparations for the 
battle were seen all around us. The troops were get- 
ting in line for the conflict, and even to our inexperi- 
enced eyes, the reasons for the movements were under- 
stood. The artillery was being placed on the hills, the 
guns unlimbered and turned toward the direction where 
the rebels were supposed to be. The cavalry were gal- 
loping hither and thither to the front. Mounted order- 
lies dashed up to the corps headquarters with written 
orders to the generals. When night came we could 
even hear distant drums and bugles, which were said to 
be those of the enemy. We were getting into close 
quarters and no mistake. 

Late in the night we received orders to move. The 
orders were ominous. Instructions were passed around 
in a whisper, to move as quietly as possible. There 
must be no loud talking. Our tin cans and coffee pots 
were to be muffled in some way so that they would not 
rattle. Under no circumstances must any man light 
his pipe or strike a match for any purpose whatever, for 
it was a quiet maneuver in the dark, to be made with- 
out letting the enemy know what was going on. 

That was enough. Company K wasn't going to let 
the enemy know where it was, not if she knew herself, 
and we w r ere as still as mice as we marched here and 
there in the dark, stumbling over almost everything in 
the way. We went over fences, through woods, up hill 
and down, past quiet farmhouses, and crossed a good- 
sized stream on an old bridge. We learned afterward 
that it was Antietam creek, made famous the next day 
by the bloody battle that took place along its banks. 


Finally we were halted in a position on the extreme 
right of the line, and threw ourselves on the ground for 
a much-needed rest. It was at that weird hour in the 
morning just before dawn, when it is the darkest. 

Scarcely had we laid ourselves on the ground than 
there was some very sharp shooting in front of us. 

The battle of Antietam had begun ! 




It was the memorable day of September 17, 1862. 

As stated in the previous chapter, it was an hour or so 
before the first signs of daylight, and we had just 
thrown ourselves on the ground for a short rest after a 
tedious and fatiguing night's march. Then the shoot- 
ing began a little distance in front of us. 

Hooker's corps had been assigned the position on the 
right of the Union army in the hope of turning the 
enemy's left. Our corps was to support Hooker's. The 
skirmishers on our right had encountered those of the 
rebels on their left. They exchanged shots, and that 
was the firing -\ve had heard. 

It seems — and this was learned afterward, of course 
— that Stonewall Jackson's force had made a rapid 
march from Harper's Ferry and joined Lee during the 
day. Lee was one of the most able generals and astute 
strategists that the world ever knew. He seemed to 
possess a wonderful facility for learning the enemy's 
movements and as if by intuition knew what they were 
intended for. Thus by bringing his own troops into the 
proper position he frequently frustrated the best-laid 
plans of the Northern generals. In this way on this 
occasion he had strengthened the weakest point of the 
Confederate's right, where General McClellan had 
intended to make his most savage attack. 

Although but two weeks away from home, as it were, 
we had become quite used to the sound of musketry, but 
never before did the shooting seem to have the same 
significance 'that it d id now. We knew that we were 
in for it. We waited for daylight as the condemned 
murderer waits for the sun to rise on his last day, for 


there was not one of us that did not regard it as his last 

"We was by dot schlaughter-haus now, sure, alretty," 
said John Ick, in the darkness. 

"Sh-h!" said Sergeant Wells. And it was the only 
answer to Ick's lugubrious remark, for we all felt that 
there was too much truth in it. Even Reddy Mahar, 
Ich's perennial enemy, said not a word, but hugged the 
ground all the closer. 

The minutes rolled on. Did ever time pass so slowly? 
Everybody was silent. Everybody was thinking — 
thinking — thinking! The sun would arise! Would 
we ever see it set? Alas, some of us did not ! 

The long-delayed daylight finally arrived. The first 
gray streaks of dawn disclosed to our eyes a vast army, 
lying in battle array, all ready for the fight, it seemed. 

The first thing done was to serve us all with a ration 
of fresh beef. This was the universal custom before a 
battle. Why was it? Was it to make us more savage, 
like so many animals? At all events it seemed to be 
the general rule. More than once I have seen an army 
marching into a battle with a chunk of half -roasted 
fresh beef in every man's hand. There used to be a 
tradition that the Confederates gave their men a ration 
of whisky and gunpowder before a fight to make them 
savage. I don't know whether there was any truth in 
this or not. 

We lighted fires. There was no use for secrecy now, 
for each army knew the proximity of the other. We 
stuck our fresh beef on the ends of sticks, held them in 
the flames of the camp fires and roasted, or rather 
toasted them, as best as we could. But before the meat 
was scarcely smoked we were ordered to change our 

The Thirteenth was formed in "close column," which 
is a usual way to prepare for a battle. We had never 
been drilled in any such movement, and to get us in 
the right position it was almost necessary for the officers 
to lead each man by the shoulders and put him where 
he ought to be. And to tell the truth, most of the 
officers knew about as little of these movements as the 


When we were in the right shape Ave were told that 
we might again light the fires and cook our meat for 
breakfast. But that breakfast was never cooked. We 
had scarcely got the fires started than the firing in the 
front began again more vigorously than we had ever 
heard it before. We were ordered to "fall in." 

Some of the men ate their beef raw. I was not used 
to that yet, and thrust my ration into my haversack. 
I didn't have much of an appetite auyhow ! 

Then the firing of the rifles in the front became more 
continuous. That was followed by the artillery. First 
there was a single shot, as if it were a signal. Then 
there was an answering roar from a far-off hill. The 
Union artillery responded, and the rebels answered 
back. The shooting of big guns extended all along the 
line, and the scarce risen sun was greeted with a con- 
tinuous salvo that sounded like ten thousand anvil 

The "boom — whiz — crash — boom" described in a 
previous chapter, was repeated and repeated a hundred, 
a thousand, yes, thousands of times', till the skies 
crashed like a thousand severe summer thunder-storms. 
It was simply awful! The noise was ear-splitting, 
and the effect on the nerves was terrible. I really 
believe that if it were not for the infernal noise of the 
artillery in a battle it would not seem half so bad. 

We were temporarily baited along a piece of woods ; 
I believe that this woods has gone into history as "The 
East Woods." Then every man was startled by the 
most unearthly yelling. 

None had ever before heard such demoniacal shrieks. 
They sounded as if they came from a lost soul in the 
nethermost depths of purgatory. We were all startled. 
It made our blood run cold. 

"What in the world is that man making such a noise 
for?" asked Sergeant Wells. 

"Damfino," replied Hank Van Orden, "let's go and 
see. ' ' 

Don't let the reader think that Hank meant to be pro- 
fane, right there in the face of death. He was so used 
to that expression that he would have said the same 
thing if spoken to by the Angel Gabriel. No one ever 


regarded it as profanity, and even Wells did not notice 
it then. 

So we went over the edge of the woods from whence 
the unearthly shrieks were coming. Wells made an 
exclamation of horror. There was no more cool and 
self-possessed man in the army than Heber Wells, but 
the sight that he saw was enough to turn the stomach 
of the most hardened veterans. 

There lay a wounded soldier. He was a member of 
the One Hundred and Seventh New York, one of the 
regiments of our brigade, and whose face was instantly 
recognized. He had been struck by the fragments of a 
bursted shell, and both of his legs were torn off near the 
knees. The feet and ankles were gone entirely, but 
there protruded from the lacerated flesh the ends of the 
bones of the legs i i a most horrible manner, making a 
sight that was simply sickening. Nearly every man of 
Company K went over to take a look at the wounded 
man and immediately turned away with a pallid face. 

There were plenty of wounded men now passing 
through to the rear, but their injuries were compara- 
tively insignificant. This was the first time that any 
of us had seen a man mortally wounded and in the act 
of dying. I think that did more to upset and demoral- 
ize the men just at that moment than anything else in 
the world, and the fact that he was one of our own men, 
so to speak, and that the same fate was likely to over- 
come any one of us at any moment, made an impres- 
sion that was terrible. 

Heber Wells saw that the man was beyond hope and 
that all that could be done for him would be to possibly 
relieve his sufferings. 

"What do you want, man?" asked Heber, sympa- 

"Water, water, water!" moaned the wounded man. 

Wells reached for his canteen and handed it to the 
dying man. 

"No, no," he said, in a weak voice, as Heber held it 
to his lips. "No, not — drink. Pour — head " 

The man's head was bursting with the fever of the 
terrible anguish he was suffering. 

"Thank — thank — better — " painfully gasped the 


poor wretch, as he felt the cooling draught trickle down 
his forehead. 

An order to "fall in" ended this painful scene. The 
wounded man must have died a few minutes later, for 
he was going fast when we left him. He is probably 
in one of the graves in the Sharpsburg national ceme- 
tery marked "unknown." But the dreadful sight had 
made an unpleasant impression upon us, for nothing 
that we had yet seen had so greatly unnerved us. I 
don't think any member of the company ever forgot that 

We were ordered to take a slightly changed position, 
to support Hexhamer's battery, which was banging 
away for dear life. As fast as the men could load the 
cannon they were sending shot and shell toward a rebel 
battery on an opposite hill, and the latter were sending 
back their shells, which were striking around us in the 
most reckless manner. The execution done by the 
enemy just then, to our intense relief, did not amount 
to much, for the most of the shells went over us, and 
exploded somewhere further in the rear. When I saw 
the artillerymen at work then, I began to wish that I 
had enlisted in that branch of the service, for it cer- 
tainly looked a good deal safer than the infantry or 

My subsequent experience corroborated this. Let me 
advise the reader if there is another war, to enlist in the 
artillery. When an artilleryman is wounded, he is 
generally torn to pieces; but taken as a whole the 
chances of his getting out of a fight alive are a good 
deal better than in most of the other branches of the 
service and it is better in other respects. 

Suddenly we were ordered to lie down flat, with space 
between each file sufficient for some one to pass 
through. This strange order was soon understood, for 
a moment later, the Sixty -ninth New York, one of the 
bravest fighting regiments of the war, came running 
through us in the double quick. 

They had been ordered to charge one of the rebel bat- 
teries. They went down the hill on the run with their 
guns on their shoulders, or hanging in their arms, and 
when they began to ascend the other side of the valley, 
they brought their muskets to a "charge bayonet l" 


A gallant charge they made, but they were repulsed. 
They were ordered back to their former position. Al- 
though a number of them had been killed, although 
there were some still in the ranks with blood streaming 
from their wounds, they came back through the Thir- 
teenth with as much regularity as if they had been in a 
drill, and with a discipline that excited our admiration. 
It was this sort of conduct that made the Sixty-ninth 
New York one of the most famous regiments in the 
war, and no historian could ever praise that regiment 
too much. 

"How do you feel, Heber?" asked Captain Irish of 
Heber Wells. 

"Hungry, just now," was Heber' s cool response. 

"I don't mean that. You know what I mean, 
Heber," said the captain. 

"Well, to tell the truth," was Wells' reply, "I would 
much rather be at home." 

"Do you know," said Captain Irish, "I feel as if I 
would never come out of this alive." 

"Oh, nonsense," said Wells, "you will come out all 

" No, " reiterated the captain gloomily; "I will never 
come out alive." 

Do men have presentiments of death? Inside of thirty 
minutes Captain Irish was a corpse ! 




Now comes the Thirteenth's "baptism of fire." And 
a bloody- one it was ! 

We were ordered forward ! 

Over eight hundred strong, in battle front, we pro- 
ceeded. The officers ordered us to "dress to the right," 
but it was a straggling line. 

The "z — z — z — ip" of the bullets could be heard 
whistling past us. And a moment later the first man of 
Company K fell. It was Fred King. He was mortally 
wounded, and died in the hospital about two weeks 
later. The feeling at seeing one of our own men fall 
out this way was indescribable. I shall not attempt to 
do it. But no matter who fell we must obey orders. 
And the pitiless, relentless order was "Forward!" 

The cannon balls and shell struck around us, tearing 
up the earth, and sometimes ricochetting or bouncing 
along the ground a great distance, like a flat stone skims 
across the water of a pond. 

Wounded men lay everywhere. Some were writhing 
and kicking. Others lay still. Some of the human 
forms were already quiet in death. The number of 
dead horses was enormous. They seemed to lie every- 
where. But it was still "Forward!" 

We climbed over a rail fence. It was a road, the old 
road that yet runs from Hagerstown to Sharpsburg. 
We did not take the road, however, for the order was 
still "Forward!" 

We climbed over the fence on the other side of the 
road. We marched some fifteen or twenty feet into 
what was then a meadow. 

We could not see any of the enemy, although their 
bullets were whistling past our heads. The rebels 
seemed to be in a woods on the other side of the meadow. 


Suddenly something occurred that seemed almost su- 
pernatural. A vast number of the enemy appeared to 
rise straight out of the solid earth, and they poured into 
us a deadly volley of leaden hail. 

It is not believed that there is another geological for- 
mation like that particular spot on the face of the earth. 
Great military men from all over the world have since 
inspected it, and said that it seemed as if nature, in a 
savage mood, had made those natural breastworks, 
simply for the purpose for which they were used on that 
particular day. 

Let me describe that field if I can. On one side, as 
before said, was a road, flanked by a post and rail fence. 
On the other side was a little valley, at the bottom of 
which was a small brook, and beyond this, a woods. 
About two-thirds of the distance to one side of the field, 
nearest the woods, there is a sudden drop in the surface 
of the ground, making a step of about four or five feet 
in height. The perpendicular side of this step is of 
ledgy rock. On the upper level, and on the lower level, 
it is tillable ground. It is as if one-third of the field 
had simply dropped its level about five feet. 

Standing over by the fence the whole field looks flat, 
without a break in it. No one would ever think there 
was such a step there. It is one of the most wonderful 
formations in the world. It extends from one side of 
the field to the other, a distance perhaps equal to two 
city blocks in length. 

It was behind this singular, natural breastworks that 
the rebels had concealed themselves, and quietly waited 
till we had got within shooting distance and then sud- 
denly stood up and fired into us. When standing erect, 
their aimed muskets were a little above the higher level. 
It was thus that it appeared as if the enemy had actually 
arisen right out of the solid earth. 

They fired into us a murderous volley. 

Surprised, demoralized, we wavered and fell back 
and made for the first fence, on the nearest side of the 

Does anybody wonder? Remember that we were 
green troops. This was the first battle we had been in. 
It was scarcely two weeks since we had left the muster- 


ing camp at Newark. Perhaps there were not half a 
dozen men in the regiment who knew the least thing 
about loading and firing a rifle. Under such circum- 
stances, and thus surprised by what seemed like an ap- 
parition of the enemy, the most experienced troops 
would have wavered. What wonder then that the 
green and inexperienced Thirteenth Regiment broke and 
with one accord made for the fence. 

Most of the officers, to their everlasting honor be it 
said, were marvelously cool and collected in that terri- 
ble scene. They succeeded in stopping the stampede. 
They re-formed us on the road before we had climbed 
the second fence, and we were again turned against the 

_ A cessation, for a few moments, not entirely, but par- 
tially, of the firing, enabled us to collect our shattered 
senses as we gazed over the meadow we had just left. 

Then we saw the murderous effect of the volley that 
had been fired into our ranks by the enemy concealed 
behind those natural breastworks. 

There in the meadow lay nine dead and sixty wounded 
men of the Thirteenth Regiment— the work of a single 
volley ! 

There was but one man there who seemed not to be 
wounded. It was Heber Wells, one of the bravest men 
in the battle that ever lived. I wish that I had suffi- 
cient mastery of the pen to adequately describe and give 
proper tribute to Heber Wells' bravery. 

Why had he remained behind in the storm of bullets 
that were whistling past him, when everybody else had 

He had remained beside the body of his dead captain. 
j Captain Irish had been killed ! 

When the captain saw the company wavering, he 
raised his sword aloft and cried out the words that have 
made his memory famous . 
"Rally, boys! Rally!" 

And just as he said this, he fell, pierced by a bullet. 
Sergeant Wells saw him fall and returned to his side. 
Wells imagined at first that the captain had been shot 
in the head, but could not find the wound. 
"Captain," said he, "are you hurt?" 


"Heber, I'm killed!" 

Captain Irish pressed his hand on his right breast, 
glanced gratefully at his faithful friend Heber, gasped 
painfully — and was dead ! 

And thus died one of the bravest, kindest-hearted men 
that ever lived. Thus died my old friend, my old em- 
ployer. When the members of Company K realized 
what had happened they were paralyzed with horror. 
The poetry of war, however, had Leen verified, for the 
first man to be killed was the captain, while in the 
brave act of rallying his wavering men. 

Heber Wells tore open the captain's coat and shirt, 
and found a small wound near the right nipple of his 
breast. There was not a particle of blood oozing from 
it. But it had reached a vital spot. Wells put his ear 
to the captain's breast, and heard the last fluttering of 
his stilling heart. 

Then Wells searched the pockets, taking from them 
the captain's watch, the papers and memorandums, and 
unfastened his sword. He tried to get the pocket knife 
and other things on the other side, but could not, on ac- 
count of the way the body was twisted around. There 
was imminent danger of the Union troops being repulsed 
and the body falling into the hands of the rebels, and 
Heber did not want any of the contents of the captain's 
pockets to fall into the hands of the enemy. 

Then Wells made up his mind to rescue the body. 
The bullets Avere still whistling about his ears in a dan- 
gerous fashion, but he seemed to care naught for that. 
Picking up the things he had removed from the cap- 
tain's pockets, and his sword, he took them over to the 
road and called for volunteers to rescue the captain's 
body. There were plenty of responses of this noble, yet 
sad duty, dangerous though it was. Of the volunteers, 
Wells selected Jacob Engle, Lewellen T. Probert and 
Jacob Berdan, and the four carried the captain's body 
over the fence and laid it in the road. 

Word was sent home as soon as possible and a dele- 
gation came on and took charge of the remains. They 
were brought home and Captain Irish's funeral was one 
of the largest ever seen in Paterson. Business was sus- 
pended, the streets were hung with banners bearing the 


last famous words of the dead captain, flags were dis- 
played at half-mast, all the public and many private 
buildings were draped with mourning, aud an immense 
concourse of people followed the body to the grave at 
Sandy Kill, where it was buried. 

Captain Irish was a member of the First Baptist 
Church of Paterson, and a handsome memorial tablet 
was set in the walls, and is there yet. Later, when the 
Sons of Veterans were organized, the first post started 
in Paterson was named "Captain Hugh C. Irish Cainp, 
No. 8." _ 

Captain Irish was not the only one of Company K who 
lost his life in that battle. The others were Frederick 
C. King, Curtis Bowne, John B. Doremus, Robert 
Gammall and Abraham JMargoff . The latter was killed 
instantaneously. The others were mortally wounded 
and died afterward. The case of Curtis Bowne was 
very peculiar, as will be described a little further on. 

Company C, the other Paterson company, also suf- 
fered severely, there being three who were fatally shot, 
namely : Peter Arlington, John M. Sheperd and George 
Me3*ers. All these were Paterson boys. 

Altogether in the regiment, however, as before stated, 
there were nine killed and some sixty wounded, and the 
whole thing occurred in that one murderous volley, 
which did not take more time than it does to write this 

The captain being dead, the command of the com- 
pany fell on First Lieutenant Scott. But he was liors 
de combat too. 

The lieutenant was not killed, but sick — very sick. 
When Sergeant Wells went to look for him, he found 
the lieutenant lying alongside the fence, doubled up 
with cramps and vomiting like a dog. Sergeant Wells 
ordered a couple of men to take the lieutenant to the 
rear, and assumed command of the company himself. 

But the battle wasn't over yet ! 




Not much account of the time of day is kept during 
a battle, but everybody seems to agree that it was about 
9 o'clock in the morning when Captain Irish was killed. 

The battle of Antietam lasted all day on the 17th of 
September, 1862. So the fighting was not over yet, by 
any means. On the contrary it had just fairly begun. 

People who are reading this story for the fun it con- 
tains will not find much that is very funny right here. 
They were certainly a good many amusing things in 
the army, but there were just as many that were horri- 
ble. All phases of war life will be given in the order 
in which they come, the object being to present all the 
different experiences of a soldier just as they are, and 
that these reminiscences are given faithfully and accu- 
rately I am sure every veteran will admit. 

The battle of Antietam was not over yet, nor was the 
part the Thirteenth New Jersey played in it. From its 
position on the pike the regiment was ordered back into 
the woods, pretty nearly the same it had occupied before 
proceeding down to its baptism. 

We had scarcely got there before the enemy made his 
appearance in full force on the other side of the turn- 
pike. Then our artillery opened up on them in good 
shape. This attack of the Confederates had evidently 
been intended to capture that battery on the hill, which 
was giving them a good deal of trouble. But they 
didn't get that battery, not by a long shot. The enemy 
was given a hot dose of shot and shell and shrapnel and 
canister (packages of bullets and slugs which burst 
open and mow down the ranks of the victims like a 
scythe), and the enemy was promptly sent back to his 
shelter at the edge of the woods. 


The Thirteenth Regiment, already demoralized by 
the volley down in the meadow, where Captain Irish 
had been killed and so many wounded, had not got over 
it and this second attack very much scattered them. It 
took some time for the officers to get them together in 
good shape again, but they finally succeeded in doing 

Just then an order came for the regiment to report to 
General Green, over by the " Dunker church, " where the 
enemy was massing in force and pressing the Union 
troops dangerouslj r . 

It is not often that I strike anything lucky, but I cer- 
tainly did just then. It became necessary to detail some 
men to guard some ammunition wagons that were 
bringing supplies to the battery on the hill, and as my 
name was next on the roster, I was one of the men 
selected for this duty. It was dangerous, of course, but 
nothing to be compared with ordinary fighting, and I 
gladly welcomed the "assignment." Some of the other 
fellows greeted me enviously and offered to change 
places with me, but I did not see it in that light. 

So for the rest of the day I viewed the battle from the 
hills, following the ammunition wagons around from 
one place to another on the heights as they visited the 
different batteries. I don't know what special use there 
was for a guard for the wagons, but I did not stop to 

Any detail that will take a man out of the very front 
of a battle is always a welcome one. The cannon balls 
and shells came pretty close at times, but I had got 
somewhat used to them, and nothing after all was so 
bad as the insidious little bullets of the rifles. 

The main portion of the regiment, however, was in it 
again for fair. They were marched down about a mile 
to the left, and up the hill back of the old Dunker 
church. This was a small brick structure, about the 
size of a country schoolhouse, and it was right in the 
thick of the battle of the afternoon. It was struck sev- 
eral times, and big holes were made through the walls 
by the shells. 

And by the way the church and its surroundings 
look about as forlorn and uncivilized now as they did 


on the clay of the battle thirty-two and over years ago. 
The name"Dunker" arose from the fact that the church 
was the worshipping place of a religious sect called the 

Up back of this church the Thirteenth Regiment, led 
by General Green himself, came near being captured. 
The enemy advanced toward us with their guns held as 
if they were either out of ammunition or else wanted to 
surrender, and quietly marched down to the right as if 
going peaceabl} T to the rear. 

Adjutant Charles A. Hopkins (afterward captain of 
Company K), with another officer went out with a white 
handkerchief on a sword as a sort of truce to see what 
was meaut by these mysterious movements. Hopkins 
had got out into the open field where he was exposed to 
every danger, when it became evident to everybody that 
the crafty enemy was trying to work the dodge of get- 
ting in our rear, and thus putting us between two fires, 
which would have annihilated the Thirteenth in a few 

The scheme was discovered by the Union troops, and 
the fact that it was seen through was discovered by the 
Confederates almost simultaneously, and the firing 
began at once on both sides in a very lively sort of a 
manner. Those who were there say that the horror of 
the fight that was commenced was almost offset by the 
sight of Adjutant Hopkins and his companion skedad- 
dling over that field to get out of the way of the bullets 
that came from both directions at once. As if by a 
miracle, however, neither of them was struck. 

This engagement lasted for an hour or so and there 
were a number of the Thirteenth killed and wounded. 
Some of those who are put down as being killed in the 
first volley may have been killed at this spot, as the 
records do not divide the encounters, the total loss being 
charged to the one engagement of "Antietam." The 
Thirteenth Regiment, however, stood its ground in -a 
manner extremely creditable for new troops, but they 
were confronted by superior numbers, and were finally 
compelled to fall back to a safer position. Their place 
was taken, later, by fresher troops, who at least suc- 
ceeded in holding the position, 


In the meantime there was some very hard fighting 
in progress on the lower side of the Dunker church, 
where the memorable charge of the Sixth corps took 
place, a portion of which I observed from my elevated 
position on the hill with the artillery. Although I was 
personally in a state of fright for fear that something 
might happen to necessitate my being sent to the front 
again, yet I could not help admiring the magnificent ex- 
hibitions of bravery which I saw almost every minute. 

Fortunately for me, however, I was kept guarding 
that blessed ammunition wagon for the balance of the 
day. Had a shell struck it and exploded, both the 
wagon and myself, including the driver and the mules, 
would have ascended skyward, but I never thought of 
that, even if I knew it. When an old soldier told me 
afterward that guarding an ammunition wagon under 
an artillery fire was one of the most dangerous things 
in a fight, I felt quite nervous over the risks I had run. 
But where ignorance is bliss 'tis folly to be wise, and I 
never knew anything about the likelihood of an ammu- 
nition wagon blowi?ig up. I faithfully attended to the 
duty of seeing that no one stole anything out of the 
wagon, and I supposed that was what I was there for. 
Certainly I could see no other reason. 

The Thirteenth Regiment after its retreat from the 
field near the Dunker church did not get into any more 
active fighting that day, although it was called upon 
several times to support other regiments and batteries. 
The fighting late in the afternoon was more severe fur- 
ther down in the direction [of Sharpsburg, particularly 
around the old stone bridge over Antietam creek where 
General Burnside made his famous stand, and which 
has ever since been called "Burnside Bridge." 

So far as I could judge the line of battle front ex- 
tended a distance of eight or ten miles from one end to 
the other, and the Hagerstown pike was practically the 
dividing line between the two armies all day. It is 
needless to say that every soldier was completely tired 
out when night finally came. 

Colonel Carman, the commandant of the Thirteenth, 
fell from his horse or was injured in some other way 
early in the engagement, and the command of the regi* 


ment fell to Lieutenant- Colonel Swords, and he acquitted 
himself with credit. General Mansfield was mortally 
wounded in the morning and the command of the corps 
fell on our division commander, General A. S. Wil- 
liams. In the afternoon fighting Company K was com- 
manded by Orderly Sergeant Wells, for there were no 
commissioned officers left, and so well did Sergeant 
Wells acquit himself that day, that just as soon as 
necessary preliminary red tape arrangements could be 
gone through with he wore the shoulder-straps of a sec- 
ond lieutenant, and his place as orderly sergeant was 
taken by Sergeant Hank Van Orden. 

On the whole the Thirteenth, for the first time under 
fire, had acquitted itself with more than ordinary credit, 
and this was publicly accorded in subsequent "general 
orders," which is the only way the rank and file ever 
get any premium on having more than done their duty. 

I am not trying to tell the whole story of the battle 
of Antietam. That is published in various volumes. I 
am only telling what I know of it. It is not much, to 
be sure, but it is as much as the ordinary private soldier 
knew about any battle in which he participated. 

No one had stolen the ammunition wagon and I had 
done my part of the duties of the day. When evening 
came the wagon was turned in with a lot of others to a 
sort of extemporized quartermaster's department, and I 
naturally expected to be sent back to my company. 

But my troubles were not yet over for that night. 
Something entirely out of the usual run occurred, 
which prevented me from getting the much-needed 
night's rest. 


A "slaughter house" sure. 

Instead of being ordered back to the regiment, I was, 
with some other men, sent down the road to guard some 
cattle that were to be killed in the morning for fresh 
beef. To my delight I found two other members of my 
company detailed on the same duty. They were Curtis 
Bowne and E. L. Allen, both old printing-office associ- 
ates, too. 

There were twelve cattle in the drove that we were 
to guard, under the charge of a corporal. We got them 
in a corner of a field, and divided ourselves up into 
three "reliefs," that is, one of us was to watch for two 
hours while the others slept, when our turns would be 
changed, so that each man would have "two hours on 
and four off," according to the regular custom. 

We lighted a fire, cooked some coffee, and had a 
smoke before turning in for a rest. The conversation 
of course turned on the events of the day, and particu- 
larly on the death of Captain Irish. Then we began to 
talk about the wounded members of Company K. 

"By the way," said Bowne, "I got a little dose of it 
myself. Look at this." 

He took off his cap and turned his face toward the 
camp*fire. In the middle of his forehead there was a 
small round bruise, as if it had been hit with a stone. 

"What is it?" I asked. 

"I don't know. I think I must have been hit by a 
spent ball that just bruised the skin without entering." 

"You are sure that it did not go into your brains?" I 
remarked laughingly. I had no more of an idea of 
such a thing than Curt did. 

"No!" he answered good-naturedly. "My brains 
are not as soft as that." 


"Does it hurt?" I asked. 

"Not a bit," was the answer. "It is nothing — not 
worth talking about." 

And none of us thought at the time that it was. Yet 
at that very moment there was a one-ounce bullet im- 
bedded in Curt Bowne's brain that afterward caused 
his death. He remained with the regiment for some 
days and then his head began to pain him so badly that 
he had to be sent to the hospital. He grew worse, but 
very slowly, and he actually lived until the following 
March, when he died from the effects of the wound 
which was at first supposed by all to be so trivial. 

This certainly was a singular case. I am told that it 
was duplicated during the war, but there were few in- 
stances like it. For a man to live from September till 
the following March with a large bullet imbedded in 
the folds of his brain is certainly something wonderful. 
The theory of the doctors, if I remember rightly, was 
that the bullet had passed between the convolutions of 
the brain without lacerating their coverings, that there 
was consequently no immediate internal hemorrhage, 
and that death resulted at last from slow inflammation. 

We couldn't get over the sad death of Captain Irish, 
and as two of my comrades of that night had worked with 
me under him in the Guardian office, we felt all the 
more keenly his loss. It seemed as if we had suffered 
the loss of a relative. I felt very moist about the eyes 
when I recalled how he had bathed my blistered feet 
with ointment only a few days before in the camp at 

"What is that strange noise?" remarked Bowne; "it 
sounds like some one humming." 

We listened. There certainly was a queer noise com- 
ing from the direction of an old barn on the lower end 
of the field. But we didn't pay much attention to it 
then. We went on discussing the battle. 

During the day, in the excitement, it had appeared 
like nothing but a gigantic excitement — a rushing mob, 
with deafening thunders of cannon and rattling volleys 
of musketry; of crowds of men rushing hither and 
thither; of men and horses falling around us; of bloody 
soldiers hastening frantically to some quiet and safe 
spot. It was a nightmare ! 


But now that it was over we began to realize what 
we had gone through. As each minute passed the hor- 
rors of the day seemed to stand out more and more 
vivid. With blanched faces each gave his version of 
the scene of the slaughter, and the merits and demerits 
of the individual members of Company K were dis- 
cussed at length. 

All through it all came that strange murmuring noise 
we had referred to. It was a low hum, like the sound 
of the insects on a summer's night, only less sharp. It 
formed a background of our whole talk. More than 
once we stopped to listen and wonder what it was. 

"Did any one see John Ick during the fight?" I 

"Didn't you hear about him?" answered Curt. 


"Why, he sneaked!" 


"That's what he did— sneaked out!" 

"How was that?" 

"Well, when the company was re-formed in the road 
after that sudden volley, you know," said Bowne, ex- 
plaining, "some one asked what had become of John 
Ick and Reddy Mahar. Lem Smith said that he saw 
them going over toward the woods on a run. One of 
the sergeants, I think it was Hank Van Orden, was 
sent to see if he could find them and bring them back to 
the regiment, which was just then marchiug back to the 
place where it had been in the morning. ' ' 

"Well," I asked, interrupting, "did he find them?" 

"The sergeant didn't find Reddy. He turned up 
afterward from somewhere. But Hank found Ick, and 
where do you think he was?" 

I answered that I was sure I could not tell. 

"Up in the woods, behind a tree," said Curt. "He 
had got an old rubber overcoat somewhere, which he 
had put on, and then squatted behind the tree. The 
coat was covered with mud and looked like a big stone. 
In fact Hank said he thought it was a rock at first. 
But the stone coughed, and looking a little closer, Hank 
discovered Ick hiding under it. Hank gave him a kick 
and told him to come back to the company. Ick said 


that he had had enough of the slaughter-house business 
and was going home. But Hank made him come 

"Did he take part in the fight in the afternoon?" I 

"Yes," answered Curt, "and he stood up to the rack 
like a major. He seemed to have got over his panic of 
the morning." 

"Well, I declare," said I. "I imagined that with 
all his talk about slaughter houses that he would be all 
right when it came to a pinch. But where did Keddy 
come from?" 

"I don't know," said Curt. "He arrived in the camp 
just as I left the company to come here." 

"Did any of the other fellows of Company K sneak?" 
I asked. 

"Not a single one of them, they all " 

"For the love of God, don't— Oh-h-h !" 

This came over from the direction of the barn before 
referred to. It was not like a cry. It was a shriek. It 
was a loud -cracked voice, that seemed to come from the 
very depths of some human soul. I never heard such a 
tone of voice in my life again. It was like the shriek 
of a wounded horse. 

We listened, breathless. Then we heard that mys- 
terious, low moaning chorus that had attracted our 
attention so often. 

"Suppose we go over to that barn and see what it is, 
Joe," suggested Liv. Allen. 

I consented and went. I wished that I never had. 

The old barn was being utilized as a field hospital. 
It was one of those big old-fashioned Southern barns, 
with a large open space in the middle of a row of stalls 
on the two sides. The floor was covered with wounded 
men, lying closely side by side. 

On the bare floor, in a row, as thick as they could 
lie, were the maimed human beings that had just been 
operated upon. Some were conscious, but the most of 
them were moaning and groaning. These moans and 
groans arose in the night air like a chorus. It was this 
that we had heard from our place on the opposite side 
of the field where we were guarding the cattle. 


I passed between the rows of wounded men, many of 
whom would never be removed from their hard couches, 
except as corpses. Li v. and I stopped to look more 
carefully at one poor fellow whose face seemed familiar. 

This poor wretch — we didn't recognize him after all 
— had just suffered an amputation of the left arm at the 
shoulder joint. 

He looked at me appealingly, as if he wished to say 
something. I knelt at his side and held down my ear. 

He made an effort to speak, but not a sound came 
from his lips. On the contrary, he simply turned his 
head — and there ran from his mouth a stream of what 
looked like dark-green paint. His legs stiffened out, a 
convulsion passed over him, an ashen hue suffused his 
face. He was dead ! 

Horror-stricken I rushed through the barn and out of 
the rear side, closely followed by Liv. Allen. 

We had better have gone the other way, for here 
were horrors a thousand times worse. The surgeons 
were at their ghoulish work on this side of the barn. 

Upon a board, laid upon two barrels, was stretched a 
human form. Perhaps it was the same poor fellow 
whose yell of anguish had aroused and startled us. But 
he was silent now. A young medical cadet was'hold- 
ing a chloroform -saturated handkerchief to his nose. 
The doctors were about to amputate the shattered mass 
of flesh that was once a leg. 

The surgeons were in their shirt sleeves. The aprons 
that some ol them wore were as red with blood as if 
they had been butchers. Assistants held candles to 
light the operation. I saw the doctor give one cut into 
the fleshy part of the man's thigh — and fled ! 

But I ran straight into another amputating table — a 
board over two barrels. Here they were taking off an 
arm ! Turning, I ran against another ! In every direc- 
tion that I might go, I would run against one of the 
horrid things. 

Blinded with fright and terror, I tried to escape. I 
don't know what became of my companion. Seeing an 
apparently open way, I deliriously rushed in that direc- 
tion, but meeting some obstruction, I stumbled and fell. 

What had I fallen into? In grasping to steady my- 


self, I caught hold of something wet and slimy! It 
was quite dark, but I could see! I could see all too 
plainly. Would to heaven I could not see ! 

I had fallen headlong into a heap of horrors — a pile 
of human legs and arms that had just been amputated. 
I shall not attempt to say how many there were. Were 
I to say there were a dozen wagon-loads of arms and 
legs, hands and feet, in that ghastly pile, I might not 
be believed ! 

And yet I do not believe that it would be an exag- 

As I lay there, scrambling for a foothold in that 
slimy, slippery, bloody, hideous mass of cold flesh — 
human flesh — there arose from one of the operating 
tables another wild shriek: 

"Oh, doctor! Oh! O-h! Oh-h-h! O-o-o-o-h! . . 
kill me! Kill me and be done with it! Kill me, and 
put me out of my misery!" 

My overwrought brain could stand no more! I 
fainted ! 

I dropped unconscious into the slimy, slippery, bloody 
mass of amputated legs and arms ! 

The young volunteer. 153 



The incidents related in the preceding chapter are 
not exaggerations. There is not a soldier living who 
went through several battles, but that has seen great 
piles of dismembered arms and legs lying around the 
operating tables of the surgeons. A veteran who was 
at the battle of Gettysburg says that he was one of a 
detail to bury these horrible human remnants, and he 
counted no less than eight hundred in the pile around 
the operating table of one temporary hospital. And at 
that battle there were a hundred of such places where a 
similar thing was to be seen. 

You pass middle-aged or old men on the streets even 
now, minus arms or legs. A large proportion of them 
were wounded in the army, and their lost limbs are 
mingled with the dust of some Southern battlefield. 
The sight of encountering such a hideous pile the first 
time is enough to overcome almost anybody. It over- 
came me, and when I fell headlong into the bloody, 
slimy mass, it made my stomach turn, my head swim, 
and; I fainted. 

I do not know how long I remained unconscious. 
When I recovered I was lying beside the rail-fence fire 
that had been started by my companions on the cattle 
guard. They revived me with a cup of hot coffee, 
which was the panacea for all the ills of the soldier, the 
same as whisky is for some people in civil life. 

I was very much fatigued and fell asleep. So did 
the others. It was Curt Bowne's turn to keep awake 
and guard the cattle. Like the rest of us he was tired 
out, and perhaps the w r ound in his head made him the 
more drowsy. At all events he fell asleep too, when 
he should have remained awake, and some time during 
the night, Liv. Allen awoke to find that the cattle had 
disappeared. There was not a single steer to be seen. 


Whatever became of those twelve cattle — whether 
they were driven off by some one when we were asleep, 
or whether they had some presentiment of the "slaugh- 
ter house" that John Ick was always talking about — 
none of us ever knew. All that we did know was that there 
were twelve steers there when we were placed in charge 
and none when we awoke in the night from our sound 
sleep. Take twelve from twelve and nothing remains. 

What should we do? Here we were confronted by an 
entirely new problem ; we had a vague sort of an idea 
that it was a serious matter for a soldier to go to sleep 
on his post, but did not know what the penalty was — at 
least not then. We had no excuse to offer, for the 
offense was self -apparent. The cattle were not there. 
Any one could see that — or rather they could not see it 
— or them ! 

So we held a council of war. 

"There is only one thing that I can see that we can 
do," said Li v. Allen. He wasn't a Methodist minister 
at that time and might perhaps make suggestions that 
he would not make in these days. "There is only one 
thing that we can do, and that is to see if we cannot find 
those cattle — or some others. If they are not the same 
ones, who can tell the difference?" 

We caught on. Liv.'s proposition, stripped of all sur- 
plus verbiage, was to get twelve cattle somehow — hon- 
estly if we could, but get them anyhow. So we started 
out on a nocturnal hunt. 

It has often struck me since as strange that we met 
no guards or pickets or other thiDgs to stop us that 
night and ask us where we were going, and if we had a 
pass. But we encountered nothing of the sort. We 
went right along without the least molestation. 

We passed through thousands of sleeping soldiers 
along each side of the road (it was Hagerstown pike), 
and more than once passed droves of cattle, but their 
guards were more faithful than we had been. They 
were awake and watchful. There were no appropriat- 
ing any of those herds. 

"If we don't strike a fat barnyard, we're lost," said 
Curt Bowne. We all had arrived at the same conclu- 
sion. _ . . 


"And there is do use following this main road," said 
Liv. Allen, wisely. "Let's strike off somewhere to one 

I don't know how far we went, but we finally came 
to a large barn on a farm that seemed well stocked and 
prosperous, and carefully going around behind it we 
were delighted to find me yard back of the building 
filled with cattle. With as little noise as possible we 
picked out twelve (as we supposed) of the cows and 
corraled them. 

None of us apparently remembered that we had been 
placed in charge of steers, and these were cows. In 
fact I don't tli ink any one thought of that matter. 
In the darkness of the night it would perhaps have been 
somewhat difficult to distinguish anyhow. 

The corporal who was in charge of the guard which 
we three printers from the Thirteenth composed, was 
an old soldier — one of the Third Wisconsin boys. He 
had gone through the mill and knew the ropes. 

"This is a snap," said he, as he emerged from a small 
building alongside the barn, holding a big rooster by 
the legs. The fowl began to squawk, but that was soon 
stopped by seizing him by the neck. 

Bowne and Allen followed suit, and each came out 
with a fine chicken. I was about to do the same thing, 
when the corporal interrupted : 

"We have got about enough poultr} T ," said he. "In 
that next shed you will find some fine suckin' pigs. Get 
one of them.' 

I reached over the fence and carefully grabbed one of 
the little pigs from its snug bed under its mother's side. 
The old sow grunted, but did not seem to appreciate the 
loss of one of her helpless offspring. But I had not 
gone far before that infernal young pig began the most 

itrageous squealing, and all that I could do I could 
not stop it. 

"Drop it, d — n the critter," said the corporal. "Let's 
git. There is no time to fool around here now." 

And we "got." The other fellows held on to their 
chickens but I was empty handed except for the stick 

1 had picked up to facilitate the driving of the cattle 
"I'm afraid we will catch it for this in the morning," 


said I, when I began to appreciate the fact that we 
were nothing but a lot of cattle thieves. 

"NonseDse, pard," said the corporal from the Wis- 
consin regiment. "These critters will be all cut up into 
mincemeat by the time the old codger who owns them 
fiads out that they are gone. Besides this is nothing for 
these times. I have done this same thing many a time 
before. It's a darned sight better than getting hauled 
up for sleeping on our posts. ' ' 

I thought perhaps this might be so, but my conscience 
troubled me a little still. I was a young soldier, and 
hadn't got hardened to such things. Many a time I 
helped do similar acts afterward and never once thought 
about it — unless caught at it! 

It was nearly daylight when we got back to the place 
where we had been posted at sunset, and drove the cattle 
into the same corner and relighted the fire. And when 
the sun arose we sat and stood around with faces as in- 
nocent as if we had faithfully performed our duty and 
had not been away from the place at all. 

We had a good breakfast of broiled chicken that 
morning. The broiling was done by sticking parts of 
the fowl on the end of sticks and holding them into the 
flames of the fire, and I can assure the reader that that 
is a good way to broil chicken all the same. We did 
not use the whole of it for breakfast, but put what was 
left in our haversacks for a future occasion. 

At 9 o'clock the relief came along and a new guard 
took charge of the cattle. 

"How's this?" asked the officer of the new guard, of 
our corporal. ' ' This order says that you are to be re- 
lieved of the charge of twelve steers. And these are 
cows. And let me see — one. two, three, etc. — why, 
there are thirteen of them ! How's that?" 

We privates looked dismayed as we ran our eyes 
over the cattle and counted thirteen. In the darkness 
of the night we had stolen one too many. But no officer 
could throw that Wisconsin corporal off his gaard. 

"Don't know nothing about it, lufftenant," said he. 
"Them there's the critters we had turned over to us. I 
didn't count 'em. Guess the other fellows must have 
made a mistake." 


"But they're cows, not steers," said the officer. 
"And you ought to know that the government never 
kills cows for beef." 

None of us had noticed this wonderful freak of nature. 

"Don't know nothing about that," replied the cor- 
poral. "If them was steers yesterday they must have 
changed during the night somehow, for they're cows 
now sure enough. It am a curious circumstance, 1 
vow. ' ' 

The lieutenant evidently thought there was no use 
arguing the point with the corporal any further, and 
said nothing more. We were relieved of our charge 
and ordered back to our brigade. 

"Dash my buttons," said the corporal, when we had 
got out of hearing. "I wish some of you fellows would 
give me a good kick." 

"What for, corporal?" I asked. 

"Don't you see," he answered, "we had one critter 
too many, and we might ha' killed her and had fried 
brains for our breakfast. And then did you see them 
udders? We might ha' had milk in our coffee. Kick 
me for a fool!" 

He was an old soldier. And to lose such an unusual 
opportunity to improve the menu of a soldier was not at 
all "in accordance with the regulations." 




We got back to the Thirteenth Regiment about 
11 o'clock. We passed through what seemed to be 
many miles of soldiers, all resting. They were lying 
about, smoking and otherwise taking it easy. And they 
needed the rest, for it was the first time there had been 
a stop in many days, and everybody was played out 
from the previous day's big battle. There is nothing 
more fatiguing than a battle. One does not notice at 
the time how much marching and running about he has. 
When the excitement is over the reaction comes and 
nature demands a rest. 

It was the first I had seen of my company since I had 
left them immediately after the murderous volley that 
killed Captain Irish. I found the boys downhearted over 
the loss of the captain. The particulars of the afternoon 
fighting were related to me, together with many other 
interesting and thrilling incidents that I had not per- 
sonally noticed or participated in. Nothing was talked 
about but the previous day's experience. The boys had 
seen a battle. They did not care to see any more. All 
had had enough ! 

Lieutenant Scott had recovered from his sickness and 
was in command of the company, while Orderly Ser- 
geant Wells, beside his legitimate duties, seemed to be 
acting in the capacity of lieutenant also. 

What struck all the soldiers that day, and it has sim- 
ilarly impressed all the subsequent historians of the war, 
was whj T General McClellan did not follow up the 
enemy. The fight, as it stood, was what might be 
called a drawn battle. Neither party could claim a 

From the camp occupied by the Thirteenth Regiment 

The young volunteer. 159 

on September 18, 1862, we could see the camps of the 
enemy on the opposite hills. We could see their flags 
and their guards. We could see their cannons and their 
mounted officers. They seemed to manifest no disposi- 
tion to renew the fight; neither did we. 

All through that day we momentarily expected to 
hear a cannon shot that would be the signal for the re- 
newal of hostilities, but it did not come. Everything 
was as quiet as a country convention, except for the 
drums and bugles that we could hear from the camps of 
the rebels as plainly as we could hear our own. 

Toward night we could see the signal flags of the 
enemy wig-wagging from the hills, and we took it for 
granted that that was preliminary to a renewal of the 
fighting in the morning. When we went to sleep that 
night we fully believed that we would be aroused before 
daylight by the thunders of the artillery and that that 
would be another day of terrible carnage. 

But the battle was over. In the morning when we 
looked in the direction of the enemy's camp there was 
nothing to be seen. The rebels had quietly sneaked 
away during the night and had crossed the Potomac in 

There was not one of us private soldiers but was glad 
that the fighting was over for the present, but at the 
same time there was not one who could understand why 
General McClellan had not followed up the advantage 
he had. He might have pursued the rebels that day, 
and, forcing them down to the banks of the river, simply 
annihilated them and ended the war then and there. 
General McClellan, in the opinion of the soldiers gen- 
erally, was one of the best officers the army ever had, 
but his conduct on that occasion was never satisfactorily 
explained to them. 

In the afternoon of the following day (the 19th) we 
were ordered to move, and we marched through a good 
part of the battlefield. Then for the first time we ap- 
preciated what an awful battle it had been. Blackened 
remains of soldiers lay scattered everywhere, gray and 
blue side by side, leveled in death. It was an impres- 
sive thing to see a dead Union soldier lying beside a 
dead Confederate. Both had been cut down in the act 


of trying to take each other's life. How futile it all 

There lay the dead soldier in blue. By his side lay 
the dead soldier in gray. What was it to them now? 
Their life struggles were over, and what was the bene- 
fit? Perhaps both of them had families to support. I 
can tell the reader that this sight brought up many 
strange feelings. It touched the heart as nothing else 
could. Could the dispute have been left to the rank and 
file, how quickly would the war have been ended. 

The Union loss in that battle was 11,420, and that of 
the Confederates, 10,000. But few of the bodies had 
been buried. In places — "Bloody Lane," for instance 
— the dead bodies had been piled up six and eight high, 
just where they had fallen upon each other in a hand-to- 
hand conflict. Many Union soldiers had been stripped 
of their uniforms by the half -clothed rebels, and lay 
there stark naked, stiff and dead, in most cases with 
their limbs drawn up as if they had died in agony. 
Many of the bodies had turned so black that at first they 
were mistaken for negroes. 

Dead horses lay everywhere. Broken muskets, un- 
limbered cannon, wrecks of caissons and baggage 
wagons were scattered about. The ground seemed to be 
actually strewn with discarded cartridge boxes and 
belts, and you could pick up a vet's blanket every few 

There were a good many stragglers. Many fell out 
of the ranks from sheer fatigue. I was one of them. 
The excitement of the past two or three days, and tho 
fact of having undergone so much fatigue were too 
much for me. During one of the stops I crawled up to 
the side of a fence, lay down and fell asleep. 

The reader will perhaps begin to think that I was a 
confirmed "straggler." I can't well deny the allega- 
tion. But I had plenty of company, for there were 
many others just as bad. 

I did not awake till some time late in the night. The 
last of the army had passed. I could hear the "tinkle, 
tinkle" of the thousands of tin cups in the far off dis- 
tance. There was no use of my trying to catch up with 
the regiment. So I decided to make myself comfortable 
for the balance of the night. 


There were plenty of other stragglers flying about. 
Some of them were not stragglers asleep, but dead men, 
although I did not know it at the time. We were still 
on a part of the battlefield. Although the days were 
warm, the nights were chilly, and I felt cold. The 
usual thing to do on such occasions is to seek some other 
soldier, lie beside him, and share blankets. The two 
blankets and the heat from each other's bodies keep the 
men warm. 

I soon found a fellow alone and prepared to lie beside 
him. Nothing was thought of such a proceeding in the 
army. He was awake. 

"Can I share your bed with you, pard?" I asked. 

"Sartin," was the answer. "I am a little shivery, 
for I've shed a lot o' blood from this wound." 

"Are you wounded?" I asked, in surprise. 

"Yes," he answered, "right through my side here. 
But I guess it escaped by vitals, for it don't hurt much, 
although it has bled considerable. What regiment be 
you from?" 

"The Thirteenth New Jersey." 

"Why, that's Yanks!" 

"Certainly, what did you think it was?" I asked. 

"Nothin', only I'm a Johnnie," said my companion. 
I involuntarily pushed back a little. "Don't be scart, 
pard," said he. "I'm not going to harm ye. We're 
all the same. If we fellers had the settlin' o' this thing, 
I guess it wouldn't last long, would it, pard?" 

"I don't think it would," I answered. "What regi- 
ment do you belong to?" 

"I'm from Galveston. I belong to the — th Texas." 
(I have forgotten the number of his regiment.) 

"How long have you been in the service?" I asked. 

"I 'listed in '61," he answered. "How long you bin 

"Only about two weeks," I answered. "We got into 
a fight almost as soon as we got here, and lost our cap- 
tain in the first round." 

"Maybe I'm the fellow what killed him," said he. 
"Nobody knows. But that is all the better, isn't it, 

I admitted that it was. And indeed such was the 


fact. If any particular soldier on either side knew pos- 
itively that he had killed any particular man he would 
feel a good deal worse over it. 

I don't know how long we talked together, we men 
who had been deadly enemies the day before. It might 
strike the reader as a queer proceeding, but I can assure 
him that outside of the battles the men on each side 
were brothers and friends, as many an old soldier can 
testify. But we finally fell asleep. 

It grew colder and colder toward morning. I snug- 
gled closer to my companion, but that did not seem to 
increase the warmth as it usually does. I was too 
sleepy, however, to make investigations. 

The sun was beginning to shine before I awoke the 
last time and threw off the blankets that covered myself 
and my bedfellow. 

"Pard," said I. "It's time to get up. The break- 
fast bell will ring in a moment." 

I shook my companion, but he did not stir. I looked 
closely into his face. It was ashen. 

I put my hand on his face. It was as cold as ice. 

My rebel bedfellow was dead ! 





To say that I was startled when I found that my bed 
fellow for the night was a corpse, would be putting it 
mild. I think it would startle anybody to wake up 
and find the person he had last spoken to at his side be- 
fore going to sleep, cold and stiff in death. I sprang 
up in horror and involuntarily hurried from the scene. 

Then a second thought struck me. As a matter of 
common decency was it not right that I should try to 
see who this poor fellow was, and send word to his 
family? He !had said that he belonged to the — th 
Texas regiment, and that his home was in Galveston. 
That was all I knew. I decided to search his pockets. 

Besides the usual miscellaneous assortment of strings, 
knives and other things to be found in a soldier's pocket, 
I came across two tintypes. One of them was of a 
middle-aged woman and the other was of a pretty little 
girl about ten or eleven years of age. These I at once 
surmised to be the dead rebel's wife and daughter. I 
also found two letters that he had received, which wore 
addressed to "James H. Thompson, — th Regiment, 
Army of Northern Virginia." 

This is the way envelopes were addressed by the Con- 
federates. They called this particular branch of the 
army "the Army of Northern Virginia," while the 
Union soldiers always called it "Army of the Potomac." 
Letters to men in the army were thus addressed, giving 
the name, regiment and army, and in some mysterious 
way, after the lapse of two or three weeks maybe after 
they were written, the letters would reach the party to 
whom they were addressed — perhaps. The mail regu- 
lations in war times are anything but perfect! 

It may also interest the reader of the present time to 


know that a letter sent by a soldier to friends at home 
did not necessarily have a postage stamp on the en- 
velope. It was for obvious reasons a practical impossi- 
bility for a soldier to go to the post'office to buy stamps, 
and so the letters went through just as well without 

Both of these letters to James H. Thompson were 
from his wife, and they were painfully pathetic and 
affectionate. I also found a half -written letter which 
was to be sent to the poor fellow's wife, which, so far as 
I can remember, read about as follows : 

"My Dear Wife: I will try to write you a few 
lines to let you know that I have been wounded in a 
fight in Ma^land, but it does not seem to amount to 
much, although it prevents me from marching. They 
left me here on the field. I suppose they thought I was 
dead. Our army has marched on and the Yanks are 
coming this way and I expect that I will be taken pris- 
oner. I cannot stir away from this place and they 
won't have much trouble in taking me, I guess. When 
you next hear from me it will likely be some time in a 
good while from some Yankee prison. But I don't care, 
for I am tired of fighting and marching and I hope 
this thing will soon be over, for I am sick of it. From 
the looks of things it will not last much longer, for Lee 
is driving the Yanks right up north and they will surely 
give it up. I expect to be home to see you soon. Tell 
Old Meigs that I will be back after my job in the shop 
before long. I wish you would see " 

Here the unfinished letter ended. Alas, how pathet- 
ically it read after what had happened. I was glad 
now that I came back to see what I could find in the 
poor fellow's pockets. 

I tore a piece of paper off the blank side of the sheet 
and wrote on it the name and address, "James H. 
Thompson, — th Texas Begiment. This man lived 
somewhere in Galveston." This I put back in his 

As soon as I got an opportunity, which was not for 
some days after, I wrote a letter explaining the circum- 
stances, and inclosing the other letters I had found and 


the tintypes, and sent them all addressed to "Mrs. 
J. H. Thompson, Galveston." I never heard a word 
of the matter afterward, and so could not say whether 
they ever reached their destination. I intended to write 
again to Mrs. Thompson after the war was over, but the 
matter was forgotten entirely until I hunted over my 
memorandums for the materials for this story. It 
would have given me considerable satisfaction to have 
known if the information I sent to Texas had reached 
its destination. 

I was not the only straggler from the Union army, by 
any means. As they say nowadays, the woods were 
full of them. From the worn roads, the demolished 
fences and other evidences, we knew what direction the 
army had taken, and we followed along the road in a 
go-as-you-please march. I here fell in with one of the 
most peculiar characters of the Thirteenth Regiment, 
and perhaps one of the most peculiar characters in the 
entire army. 

His name was Davis. I don't remember what his 
first name was, but the boys always called him "Jeff." 
"Jeff Davis" became one of the noted characters of the 

He never would keep up with the regiment on a 
march. He was a short, stout fellow, of the coarsest 
grain, physically, so stooped in the shoulders that he 
looked hump-backed. He was as strong as an ox, and 
about as bright intellectually as a mule. He also re- 
sembled the latter animal in stubbornness. He is the 
chap who has been already referred to as the man who 
would always insist on carrying two knapsacks and two 
haversacks, and if he had been asked to carry two guns 
he would not have minded it much. 

Davis, at the battle of Antietam, when ordered to go 
into the fight, stepped out of the ranks and fired off his 
rifle into the air. He said that he wanted to see if it 
was all right before wasting any cartridges on the 
rebels. And all through the fight he had his gun 
swathed in an extra overcoat. 

The quantity of stuff that this fellow carried was as- 
tonishing. He had enough equipments for the supply 
of an ordinary squad. He was a perfect miser so far as 


accumulating necessary articles was concerned, and it 
did not seem to make the slightest difference how heavy 
a weight he had on his shoulders. 

As said, the officers could no more keep "Jeff Davis" 
in the ranks on a march than they could fly. He would 
take his time, walking along as he chose, and generally 
reaching camp two or three days after the regiment had 
arrived. It was always a great wonder how he escaped 
being gobbled up by the guerrillas. 

Neither would he go into a tent with the company. 
He always insisted in making up a bed for himself on 
the ground immediately behind the colonel's tent. 
Neitner would he drill or do any other of the ordinary 
duties of a soldier. He was too stupid to learn any- 
thing and it was not considered safe to intrust him to 
picket or guard duty, for the chances were ten to one 
that he would not remain on his post five minutes after 
the corporal left. He was punished in every imaginable 
way, but all that seemed to make no more impression 
upon him than pouring water on a duck's back. 

After all sorts of trials, he was finally assigned to the 
duty of caring for one of Colonel Carman's horses, and 
that he did well, and he was retained as hostler for the 
balance of his term. 

But old Jeff wasn't a bad companion during the time 
we were marching along with the stragglers, looking 
for the army that had left us behind. Jeff knew how 
to cook almost everything, and he managed to have a 
good supply of things in his larder (haversack) that 
were not included in the regular army menu. He also 
had tyro or three estra blankets, so that we were com- 
fortable. Furthermore there was a quaintness and 
originality about the old fellow that made him interest- 
ing — at least for a while. 

We stragglers were four or five days getting along 
alone before we reached the regiment in camp at Mary- 
land Heights. In the meantime the regiment had 
reached Sandy Hook, a place some distance below 
Harper's Ferry, and was in camp there two or three 
days, but we could not find them. There were over one 
hundred thousand men scattered about, and it was no 
easy matter to find a particular regiment in that crowd. 


When we got to Sandy Hook, we found that the regi- 
ment had moved down the river to Maryland Heights. 
It was the day after — that is, the 24th of September — ■ 
before we finally found them, and rejoined our comrades 
of Company K. 

Maryland Heights has already been previously de- 
scribed. It is located at the confluence of the Potomac 
and Shenandoah and immediately across the Potomac 
from Harper's Ferry. 

There wasn't much to Harper's Ferry in those days, 
although so far as the village itself is concerned it 
really did not look much larger on the occasion of a 
visit there recently. It is a historic place, particularly 
in regard to matters relating to the civil war, for it was 
here that the first act of the preliminaries to the war 
was perpetuated — John Brown's raid. It also figured 
extensively in various movements during the war, for 
the reasons before described of its being such an impor- 
tant strategic point. 

From our camp we could look down and take a bird's- 
eye view of Harper's Ferry. None of the immense rail- 
road bridges now there were to be seen in those days. 
There had been a railroad bridge, but it had been de- 
stroyed and the only way to cross was on a pontoon 

A pontoon bridge is made by taking a lot of small 
scows and anchoring them at regular intervals across 
the river. Then stout timbers are laid from one boat to 
the other, and across these timbers are laid heavy 
planks, which form the floor of the bridge. It is aston- 
ishing what a load these bridges will carry, even to 
quite large cannon and heavy baggage wagons. The 
boats are carried on the march on wheels and the timber 
and planking on wagons, and the shortness of the time 
required to make a bridge across the river is wonderful. 
These bridges are all right unless the anchors slip. 
Then there is trouble. The bridge goes to pieces in an 
instant, and whatever is upon it is precipitated into the 
water. I have seen this more than once. 

Some of the things that occurred while we were in 
camp on Maryland Heights I shall defer till another 




We had been in the service just four weeks. And 
what an exciting month it had been! We had gone 
through one of the hardest battles of the war up to that 
time, had participated in fatiguing marches, and had 
practically seen as much service in those respects as 
some regiments that had been enlisted five times as 

And yet we had never had a rest, never been in a field 
camp, hardly ever had any drilling. We had seta pace 
and beaten a record, for there was not another regiment 
in the army that could equal this hasty, sudden precipi- 
tation into active warfare. 

We were glad enough therefore when informed that 
we were likely to remain in Camp Maryland Heights 
for some time, and that we might proceed to make our- 
selves comfortable. As a matter of fact we remained 
there till the 27th of October, which is quite a long 
time for an army at a time of the year when the war 
might be prosecuted. 

Of course we did not know how long or how short a 
time we were likely to remain there but we proceeded 
to make ourselves as comfortable as possible, and to do 
so was no easy task. We had no tents or anything else 
to shelter us. Our tents had been left at Rockville, to- 
gether with our knapsacks, and we had nothing to pro- 
tect us from the weather except such things as blankets, 
and a few overcoats, for we had been under light march- 
ing orders since we left Rockville. The old soldiers 
had "pup tents," but we had nothing. So we under- 
took to build some log huts. 

It was a long distance to the nearest forest, and that 
made it a difficult job to get the necessary timber to the 


camp. Details were made from each company to fell 
trees and bring the logs to camp, but that was a slow 
process. In the meantime we were exposed to the 

For a wonder, ever since we had left home we had 
had clear weather. We never thought of its being any- 
thing else. The days were warm, aud the nights cool, 
as they usually are in September, but it had remained 
clear. So when an old-fashioned rainstorm came along 
it introduced us to a new misery. 

I can't imagine a more doleful state of affairs than a 
camp in a rainstorm. A more forlorn set than Com- 
pany K it would be hard to imagine. We had erected 
the side walls of our little log cabins, and had plastered, 
the chinks with mud, but they had no covering. Some 
of the boys had utilized their rubber blankets for this 
purpose, but the most of us had foolishly thrown away 
our "ponchos," as they were called. 

So we had nothing to do but to mope around and an- 
swer to roll call and cook coffee in the drenching rain 
in the daytime, and sleep on the bare ground exposed 
to the deluge at night. Is it a wonder that many of the 
boys got sick? Is it a wonder that many of them never 
recovered from the effects of such exposure even after 
their return home when the war was over? I was 
"bunking" with Heber Wells, and it was at Maryland 
Heights that he received a box from home, filled with 
cakes, fresh homemade bread (fresh when it left home) 
and potatoes (something we did not get in the army very 
often) ; on the top of it all some fine smoking tobacco, 
which was a great improvement over the "dried chips" 
sold by the sutlers. ' 

Heber and I used that box as a cover for our heads in 
the rain. To be sure the rest of our bodies was out- 
doors, drenched to the skin, but onr heads and faces 
were protected and we pitied the other fellows who had 
no nice boxes to protect themselves with ! 

The rain lasted several days and I do not think there 
was ever more suffering and discomfort experienced by 
a body of soldiers during the whole course of the war. 
The consequences was that half the regiment was on 
the sick list from the exposure." 


To add to the discomfort, everybody was affected by 
the water. There were altogether about six thousand 
troops in camp on Maryland Heights, and they all had 
to get their supply of water from a single spring. This 
spring was located at the bottom of a precipitous rock, 
and the water was as clear as crystal, and looked all 
right. It also tasted as good as it looked. 

But it seems that the spring water was strongly im- 
pregnated with magnesia, or something of the sort, and 
the result was that every man in the whole camp was 
affected. The reader can well imagine what would be 
the result for a man to drink rochelle salts for break- 
fast, dinner and supper! Boiling it did not seem to 
make any difference. Some of the boys went half a 
mile or so down to the river for their water, but that 
was not till after the character of the spring had been 

There was not a well man in the whole brigade, and 
the deaths were so numerous that it was scarcely a day 
that one did not see three or four funerals. Only one 
case in Company K resulted fatally, however — Martin 
V? B. Demarest. I was one of the pall bearers at his 

The coffins in which soldiers in the army were buried 
were made of pieces of the boards from the cracker 
boxes, nailed together. These were carried by poles 
being tied at the sides. A dead soldier wears no shroud. 
He is simply dumped into the box in his everyday uni- 
form, and nailed in. In the time of battle they don't 
even bother with the boxes. 

The company is mustered, and the chaplain says a 
short service over the body. Then follows the parade 
to the grave, the lowest in rank marching first. The 
music is with the fife and drum, and the tune is always 
the same, the solemn Pleyal's hymn, or "Dead Marc; ," 
as it was called. At the grave six soldiers each Lie 
three blank cartridges over the body, and it is buried. 
The romains are lowered and covered, and a piece of 
board from a cracker box or a barrel stave is marked 
with the name and regiment of the deceased. Then the 
mourners march back to camp while the "band" plays 
,the liveliest tune in its limited repertoire. 


As John Ick romarked, "Dey blays a solemn hym- 
tune by de zemmytery, un den ein dance tune back, all 
de times." 

We buried Mart Demarest at the time in a shallow 
grave beside the camp, but his body was afterward re- 
moved to the National Cemetery at Antietam, where it 
lies in a long row in Section 11. 

No one can tell the sufferings we endured at Mary- 
land Heights, until the arrival of our "shelter" tents, or 
"pup"®tents, as the boys more commonly called them. 
These reached the camp on the 17th of October, along 
with an extra supply of blankets and clothing. 

Had the "pup" tents been given out to us at first, im- 
mediately after leaving home, we should have regarded 
them with scorn. But after the exposures we had suf- 
fered, they seemed veritable palaces. We immediately 
proceeded to make ourselves comparatively comfortable. 

A "pup" tent consists of two pieces of canton flannel 
or thick muslin about six feet square. On one side is a 
row of buttonholes, and on the other side there are but- 
tons. These things were made by contract, and it was 
seldom that the location of the buttons corresponded 
with the buttonholes, but as most of the boys were pro- 
vided with needles and thread they soon overcame that 
difficulty. Each soldier carries one section of a tent. 
When they go into camp the two are buttoned together, 
making a piece about twelve by six feet square. 

Two short poles, three or four feet high, are driven 
into the ground about six feet apart. The upright poles 
must have forks on the upper end. Across these is laid 
a horizontal pole. This forms the apex of the tent. 
The sides are fastened to the ground by pegs whittled 
from twigs. This makes a small tent the shape of an 
inverted "V" with nothing at either end. Generally 
the soldier carried in addition to the piece of shelter 
tent, a rubber blanket and a woolen one. One of the 
rubber blankets served as one end of the tent. The 
other was laid on the ground, and covered with one of 
the woolen blankets. This formed the bed. The other 
blanket formed the "bedclothes," which were added to 
by a spare overcoat, if it was too cold. 

This tent was about the size of a dog house, which 


perhaps gave it the name of "pup" tent. Of course 
there was not room enough in them to stand up, or 
hardly to sit up, but they kept off the rain and wind 
and that was enough. To get in one of them the soldier 
had to get down on his hands and knees and crawl in 
like a dog. There was no protection to the lower end of 
the tent unless one of the soldiers carried an extra piece, 
which was sometimes the case. 

Don't laugh at the "pup" tent. It was one of the 
most useful things ever invented for the comfort of the 
soldiers. An old soldier would dispense with almost 
everything else before he threw away his piece of shel- 
ter tent, if it were in the inclement season of the year. 
In warm weather it did not matter so much. And the 
idea of two soldiers always bunking together probably 
begins to dawn on the mind of the reader. 

These two soldiers were always called partners, or 
rather, for short, "pards." They were to each other as 
husband and wife, so far as a division of personal and 
"domestic" duties were concerned. 

But I will defer a fuller description of my pard till 
the next chapter. 


"my pard." 


What a host of recollections that expression brings to 
the mind of every old soldier ! 

Nearly every soldier in the army had his "pard." 
When the boys first enlisted the gathering into couples 
was a process of natural selection. It is innate in the 
human breast to have a chum. The Good Book says 
that it is not good for man to live alone. That of course 
referred to Adam in the Garden of Eden, and meant 
that our original grandfather should have a wife. It 
would have been extremely inconvenient for the soldiers 
to be accompanied by wives, so they did the next best 
thing — selected a "pard." 

No one ever knows how this is done. There seems 
to be a natural affinity that draws men together. It 
cannot be said that it is generally on account of a simi- 
larity of tastes, for experience proves that men who are 
of the most radically opposite character get along best 
together. The selection of a "pard" came at the first as 
naturally as mating of birds in spring. The longer 
they were in the army the more did the soldiers appre- 
ciate the convenience, indeed the actual necessity of 
this arrangement. 

It frequently happened that the original selection was 
not amicable, and there was a change. This in army 
parlance was called a "divorce." But these changes 
were not frequent after there had once been a satisfac- 
tory adjustment of relations. Only by death or the 
absence from sickness or wounds of one of the parties 
was the relationship broken. 

The two soldiers constituted the "families" of the 


army. They divided the numerous little duties of a 
personal nature, aside from the regular military duties. 
They pooled their rations, took turns at cooking and 
other things, and altogether made themselves more 
comfortable and happy. 

On stopping for the night, one "pard" would hasten 
for the nearest rail fence or to the woods for twigs to 
make a fire, while the other would grab two canteens 
and go for water; sometimes this necessitated a trip of 
a mile, for the flanks of the army might be a long dis- 
tance from the stream that had determined the camping 
place. One of the "pards" would then take a short trip 
out into the country to see if he couldn't "confisticate" 
a chicken or a stray pig, or even participate in the pur- 
loining of a calf. Not infrequently was a rabbit raised. 
If there was a granary or a potato mound handy, it 
afforded a valuable contribution to the larder. 

More than once these foragers came back with bird 
shot in their epidermis, which came from the guns of 
the irate grangers. I have felt the sting of small bird 
shot on more than one occasion. But the soldier did 
not mind a little thing like that. No matter what hap- 
pened he would not let go of his "rations," if he had 
been successful in getting anything. One of the cheek- 
iest things I remember doing was to steal a chicken 
from a hen roost, and j;then go to the house and borrow 
an iron pot to cook the chicken in and make a fricasse. 

And while one of the "pards" was putting up the 
"pup" tent the other would cook the supper. They be- 
fore long become good cooks too, and could make a 
variety of dishes out of their limited supply that would 
surprise a professional chef. 

Sometimes one of the "pards" was sick and tired out 
at the end of a day's march, while the other was com- 
paratively fresh. Then the better one would care for 
his "pard" as if he were a brother, and do all the work. 
They stood by each other in sickness or trouble. They 
shared with each other the'joys that came from surrepti- 
tious foraging, whether it be on some neighboring farm, 
or from the sutler's tent. 

At night they shared each other's blankets. Thus 
they kept warm. Soldiers always slept, whether in a 


"bunk" in winter quarters, or alongside a fire on the 
march, in that peculiar shape called "spoon fashion." 
The reader will understand what that means. It was 
a convenient and practical arrangement except when 
one of the fellows desired to turn over on the other side. 
The other had to get around at the same time. 

When in the stillness of the night you heard some one 
shout out : 

"Attention — 'bout — face!" you knew that it meant 
that the two "pards" were about to turn over on their 
other sides to ease their positions. To keep warm in 
cold weather they snuggled and hugged each other in 
the most affectionate manner, and it was only the direst 
necessity that induced them to change their position if 
they once got comfortable. 

There were few men who did not have their "pards." 
If a soldier had a foghorn voice when he snored, it was 
considered a legitimate cause for "divorce." If one of 
the "pards" was less cleanly in his habits than the other, 
a bill of separation was in order. The "statutory 
grounds" from a soldier's point of view, was a chronic 
disposition to play off and shirk in the performance of a 
due share of duty. That was an unpardonable sin. If 
a soldier obtained the reputation of being a shirk in this 
respect, no matter how good he might be otherwise, he 
was doomed to live and sleep alone, with all its discom- 

I was fortunate in the selection of my "pards." The 
first, as before stated, was Orderly Sergeant Heber 
Wells. He was the same dignified gentleman that he is 
now, a man of the highest instincts and most upright 
moral character, who never knew how to do a mean or 
dishonorable act. But Heber was the "orderly," and 
that meant no end of work. He had to attend to all the 
roll calls, make out the reports and be in constant com- 
munication with the captain or other commanding officer 
in regard to the different duty details. That kept him 
busy. B3' common consent the orderly sergeant is 
exempt from the ordinary menial service of camp life. 
So the most of the duties of a personal or domestic 
nature while he was "my pa?d" naturally fell upon me. 

Heber, however, was not "my pard' yery long, for 


he was soon appointed to the position of second lieuten- 
ant of Company K. That meant his removal from the 
ranks to the officers' tent, and a separation between us 
socially. The social distinction between a soldier and 
a commissioned officer is very great. The man with 
the commission belongs to the four hundred of the army, 
while the private is the workingman. If it were other- 
wise it would be detrimental to discipline, for there is 
no greater truism than "familiarity breeds contempt." 
A servant or employee has comparatively little respect 
for the master or employer who makes himself familiar. 
The high-headedness of officers in the army is galling at 
times, but it is necessary for discipline, and no amount 
of philosophizing can change this fact. 

My real "pard" was John Butterworth. John was 
an old employee of Daggers & Row, the bobbin turners. 
He told me all about wood turning, and I told him all 
about the printing business. He was married and wor- 
ried a good deal about his wife, which was a pain that 
I had not to undergo. John was not an educated man, 
but he was possessed of an extraordinary degree of 
sound common sense. He knew how to cook every- 
thing that could be made of pork and beans and hard- 
tack. The only thing in which John was lacking was 
in card-playing. I taught him how to play a fair game 
of High-Low-Jack with the greasy old pack of cards we 
had, but could never teach him the mysteries of poker. 
He conscientiously sent home every cent of his pay that 
had not been mortgaged to the sutler, while I had no 
one depending on me and so liked to indulge in the elu- 
sive pleasures of "draw." I found plenty of other fel- 
lows in the company, however, who could relieve me of 
my surplus cash, after a visit from the paymaster, with 
neatness and dispatch, and even go so far as to mort- 
gage future months' income. When credit in that di- 
rection was exhausted, blankets, overcoats and other 
goods and chattels went the way of all flesh frequently 
in consequence of overconfidence in the security of three 
nines or a five high full house. 

But other than in card-playing John Butterworth was 
an ideal "pard." I ne^?r heard him "kick" over the 
performance of a duty. X think I sometimes took ad 



vantage of his perennial good nature, now that I come 
to look back to those times. He would take the can- 
teens and walk a mile for a supply of water, without a 
word of protest. He would gather twigs and branches 
for bedding, raid a rail fence afar off or do any other 
duty asked, without a word of complaint. 

And he was always good natured. I never saw his 
temper ruffled. He was a good soldier in every respect, 
always ready to perform his duty with the minimum of 
"kicking," whether it were a battalion drill, a battle, a 
long march or a turn at picket. And when he had after 
a day's hard work succeeded in getting a few cedar 
boughs on a row of poles on the ground for a mattress, 
he would pull the blanket up to his chin and say : 

"Oh, I tell you, Joe, but isn't this solid comfort? 
There's many a poor fellow in the world who hasn't such 
a nice comfortable bed as this, eh?" 

I agreed, but I frequently did so with the mental 
reservation that no one but a veritable Mark Tapley 
could extract comfort and pleasure from such condi- 

I shall ever remember "my pard" John Butterworth 
with feelings of satisfaction and pleasure, for he was a 
good, true friend, and there were not many men in the 
army so well favored as I was in the selection of a 

Some of the other fellows were not so fortunate. 
There were continual quarrelings and bickerings and 
even fights as to who should do this and who that. But 
I think the most comical thing of all was that Jonn Ick 
and Beddy Mahar should have been thrown together 
as "pards." 

Such, however, was the case. It would have been 
difficult to get two more incongruous characters together. 
One was German and the other Irish, and they were 
always quarreling. They were unlike in everything 
imaginable. Yet by some strange fate things hap- 
pened so that they should bunk together. 

I remember on the occasion of the first night we had 
our "pup" tents. My "tent" was next to theirs. 

"Dot vas a devil uv a ting," said Ick. "How was a 
fellow to get dot ting on the outside, alretty?" 


"Oh, shut your blarney trap," answered Reddy. 
"Wait awhile till we get the hang o' this consarn. 
You see here are some holes — ■ — " 

"Und here be de buttonholes, by jimminey." 

"We will button thim together, that we will, be 

"We vill dot, ri-et away." 

They buttoned the two sheets of the "pup" tent to- 
gether and spread it out on the ground. 

"That is the sheet, begovra," said Reddy. Where- 
upon he spread it out and rolled himself up into it. 

After some altercation between the two as to the way 
to fix it, some of the other fellows showed them how to 
make a tent of the "sheet." When it was completed 
the two got on their hands and knees and crawled in. I 
never knew what started the trouble, but in a moment 
everybody in that part of the camp was attracted by the 
bellicose talking between Ick and Mahar, and pretty 
soon the} 7 became involved in a regular rough-and-tum- 
ble fight. 

Now there isn't much room in a "pup" tent to carry 
on a fight according to the rules of the Marquis of 
Queensberry, or any other British nobleman. The fight- 
ers rolled over to the side of the little tent, and pulled it 
from its fastenings. The tent was on the side of a hill, 
and they naturally rolled downward. The further they 
rolled the closer were they wrapped in the folds of the 
"pup" tent, and they went down that hill as if they 
were done up in a muslin bundle, fightiDg and snarling 
as they went like a couple of cats in a bag. 

It was one of the most comical sights I ever saw. 
The tent was torn to tatters. But John Ick and Reddy 
Mahar didn't want any tent that night. They slept in 
the guardhouse. 

I also lost my tent that same night, but in an entirely 
different way, although fully as comical. 




Before I pioceed to tell how I lost my "pup" tent 
that night, let me introduce the reader to the army 

There was nothing in the whole army that filled such 
an important and unique place in the prosecution of the 
war as the meek and docile mule. I use these adjec- 
tives with an unlimited degree of mental reservation. 
Appearances are often deceiving. There is nothing 
more plainly written in nature than the sign of meek- 
ness and docility emhossed on the placid countenance of 
the mule. 

But woe be to him who places faith in the meek and 
innocent appearances of the army mule. Somewhere 
in the interior of the mule there lurks a latent energy, 
a pent-up supply of total depravity that would do credit 
to the arch enemy of mankind. No doubt the original 
delineator of Satan had been a victim of misplaced con- 
fidence in the hind legs of a mule, for otherwise what 
would have suggested the adoption of hoofs as the ortho- 
dox representation of the devil's feet? If the aforesaid 
original artist had put a paint brush on the end of 
Satan's tail, instead of an arrow head, there would have 
been no room for doubt as to where he got his model. 

Horses were never used in the army except by the 
mounted officers and soldiers. The motive power of all 
warlike rolling-stock was the mule. The teams con- 
sisted of from six to ten mules, according to the depth 
of the mud. They were driven by one line, the same as 
they are driven now through the South. The driver 
does not sit on the wagon, but in a saddle on the wheel 
mule on the near side. 


I tried once to drive a mule team, but only succeeded 
in getting them into inextricable confusion. How a 
driver guides the team to the right or to the left as he 
desires, with only one rein, is a mystery in equestrian 
dynamics that I could never comprehend. The rein and 
the long-lashed whip had their uses to be sure, but they 
were insignificant factors in the art of driving a mule 

The secret of this science lay entirely in the language 
used by the driver, or 'iteamster" as he was called in 
the army. In order to keep a mule team in motion it is 
necessary to carry a continual conversation. A man 
with a weak pair of lungs could never drive a team of 
army mules. Neither could a strict church member. 
The nature of the conversation is altogether inconsistent 
with orthodoxy. I have heard of men who were good 
and pious, and refined and discreet in their language, 
being appointed to the position of mule drivers. In 
such cases one of two things happens. Either the afore- 
said teamster resigned his position, or else he fell from 
grace to a depth of hopeless depravity that completely 
ruined all hopes of future happiness. 

I cannot describe the language a successful mule 
driver used to make his team start, and keep them going 
after they had once started. It would be entirely in- 
consistent with a work designed for general distribu- 
tion. Besides, it would likely break down the press on 
which it was printed. Keeping within the confines of 
conservative respectability, I will merely remark that 
when the teamster wants to start the team, he grasps 
the blacksnake whip in his right hand and the single 
rein in his left, gives the former a snap and the latter a 
jerk and opens the conversation : 

"Now, then, you ! Git up there, you 

why don't you pull? f *******! 1 

! ! ■ ! Gee Haw !" 

Looking toward the noise you see a cloud of blue 
smoke arising and the air is filled with a suffocating 
odor of sulphur. Then you are conscious of a move 


" She starts, she moves. She seems to feel 
The thrill of lif e along her keel ! " 

The long mule team with its cumbersome, canvas- 
hooded baggage wagon has started. But don't let the 
innocent reader imagine that the torrent of vocal sounds 
ceases with the beginning of motion on the part of the 
team. No, indeed ! The teamster must keep right on. 
The moment he stops the team stops. The yelling is a 
part of the mechanism of the motive power of the estab- 
lishment. It is the supply of steam that actuates the 
valves and pistons of the long-eared, brush-tailed, four- 
footed locomotives. Thus it was that when night came, 
and the other soldiers were tired and fatigued in their 
limbs, the teamsters were played out in the muscles 
that move the vocal chords, the lips, and the bellows 
apparatus of the lungs. 

When night came, the mule took up the refrain 
where it was dropped by the teamster and generally 
kept it up till daylight. The reader has probably heard 
the peculiar music rendered by the mule. It is hard to 
express it in type, but it is something like this : 

"Onk-a! onk-a! onk-a! onk-a!" 

The tone is a mezzo-soprano, alto, falsetto, basso com- 
bination, something like a bazoo. The exact intonation 
can only be given by a man in the last stages of diph- 
theria. I have heard some singers who could sing as 
well as a mule — but not many. 

Such is the natural music of the individual mule. 
Now the average army mule never took much stock in 
solos. When one began his bazoo, another answered, 
and a third chimed in, till at last there was a chorus of 
mule music. Other mules in other parts of the army 
would join the refrain, till a cloud of discordant mule 
song arose to the ambient heavens and mingled with the 
twinkling stars. (That's pretty bad, but I'll let it go.) 

The soldiers soon got used to imitating tho music of 
the mule with marvelous accuracy. In fact at times it 
was almost impossible to distinguish between the gen- 
uine article and the counterfeit. A mulo would begin 
with his indescribable "Onk-a, onk-a," and some camp 
wag would follow it up. Other mules (the four- legged 
ones, I mean) would join in the refrain, and so it would, 


go, till the entire body, mules and men, would send 
forth a grand chorus that was limited only by the utter- 
most confines of the army. 

The mule choruses were indescribably comical, and 
sometimes disastrous, as they would discover the where- 
abouts of the army to the enemy under circumstances 
that were unpleasant. I have known one man to start 
up the mule chorus on a quiet night till it involved 
every brigade, division and corps within twenty miles. 

There was no accounting for the vagaries of the army 
mules. Sometimes they would be quietly crunching 
their fodder, when suddenly, without the least excuse 
or provocation, they would stampede. They did not 
care what direction they took. One would think after 
a hard day's work they would take advantage of the 
opportunity to get a little rest. But a mule is never 
really tired. At least no matter what may have been 
the work of the day there is a reserve force equal to any 
possible or impossible extra emergency. And when the 
mules got loose and stampeded there was nothing to 
stop them except their own sweet and angelic will. 

I remember on one occasion in the middle of the 
night we were suddenly aroused from our sleep and ran 
for our lives under the idea that the enemy's cavalry 
had made a charge upon us, when it was nothing but 
the mules stampeding from a neighboring brigade. 
This same thing occurred many times, in different parts 
of the army, during the course of the war. 

There is no dependence on the friendship of the hind- 
leg of a mule. It may rest in quiescence for months, 
but finally, like a long smouldering volcano, it will 
break forth without any preliminar}- rumbling. It is 
no respecter of persons or rank, that hind-leg of the 
nrnile. The man who had carefully and faithfully stood 
by the mule in sickness and distress, in hunger and 
thirst, in the camp and on the march, after having been 
left unmolested so long that a feeling of confidence had 
been created, was often made the victim of the irrespon- 
sible viciousness of the hind-leg. No,never~put your trust 
in the hind -leg of a mule, no matter how innocent it 
may look. 

In other respects is a mule deceptive. His eye ia 


gentle and bland, but don't trust it. The more gentle 
and bland, the more perfect the mask over the hidden 
stock of total depravity lurking within that silent but 
busy brain. 

With a horse you can tell something about his inten- 
tions by the position of the ears. Ears slanted forward 
indicate alarm or extra watchfulness. Ears laid behind 
flat on the head indicate viciousness. A state of equine 
placidity is manifested by quiescent ears hanging 
loosely at the sides of his head. But not so with a 
mule. His ears generally hang senselessly beside his 
head. They are too heavj T to move around to express 
emotion. So the driver cannot take warning of the 
feelings of the mule or his possible intentions for good 
or evil at any particular moment from his ears. 

I doubt if the reader ever saw a dead mule. As 
many thousands as I ever saw alive, 1 can't remember 
more than half a dozen dead ones. They did not often 
get near enough to the front in the ordinary course of 
the war to be shot in battle, and they seemed impervious 
to all the usual influences of climate or condition. The 
only thing that ever kills a mule is not a physical ail- 
ment, but mental trouble. 

I give this statement after full consideration of the 
gravity of the assertion, and reiterate that the main 
cause for fatality among mule folks is mental worri- 
ment — in other words, discouragement. When a mule 
for any cause becomes discouraged, his sphere of useful- 
ness in this world has forever ended. He simply lies 
down, and without any unnecessary nonsense or fuss, 
quietly yields up the ghost. I never saw but one mule 
die. He tried in vain and faithfully to help pull a 
wagon out of the mire, but when he found that the task 
was impossible, he gently laid himself down and died. 

Ask any old army teamster if he ever knew a mule 
to die from any other cause than sheer discouragement. 

A word of sympathy and justice is due to the mule. 
All through his life he labors under the pain and disad- 
vantage of a questionable ancestry. No matter how 
otherwise bright the surrounding circumstances may 
be, the mule always has within his breast the knowl- 
edge that he is an illegitimate offspring. While horses 


hold their heads high in the knowledge of a noble an- 
cestry, the poor mule hangs his head in shame because 
his genealogical tree extends back only one generation ; 
and in addition to that, the possibilities of future blood 
relations to honor his memory are so remote that it 
must forever be the source of carking care and mental 
pain. These things may possibly account for many of 
the vagaries of the mule that might otherwise be inex- 

The appetite of the mule is insatiable and omnivorous. 
His digestion is an object of envy on the part of many 
a two-legged dyspeptic. To the mule antediluvian hard- 
tack crackers are but as mush. Like the Manhattan- 
ville goat ho can digest anything short of coal scuttles. 
Old blankets, haversacks, newspapers, and leather belts 
form a sumptuous dessert for the mule ; and instead of 
nuts at the end of a banquet, he would any day prefer 
the ridgepole of a tent. 

And that brings me back to the introduction of this 

Heber Wells had received a box from home, as be- 
fore described. It looked like rain one night and he 
suggested that he keep the box under cover so that the 
rain would not spoil the remainder of the contents. I 
vacated, aud bunked that night with Hank Van Orden. 
In the middle of the night I was awakened by the rain- 
drops falling in my face, which I thought was strange, 
as I had gone to sleep fully protected b}^ the "pup" tent. 

Getting up I was surprised to find I was outdoors. 
The "pup" tent had entirely disappeared with the excep- 
tion of a small end of one of the white sheets. 

This was sticking out of the month of a mule ! 

The mule had eaten up our "pup" tent. 




Yes, it was a fact. The mule had eaten up our tent. 

This was not an infrequent occurrence, for as said be- 
fore, an army mule liked a "pup" tent as well as a 
Harlem goat does a tomato can or a flesh-colored living 
picture on a three-sheet poster. But it was something 
entirely new to us, and we marveled greatly. 

The worst of it all was, Hank Van Orden and I were 
out of a tent. We were outside in the cold, and the 
tent was inside the mule. It did not call for a mo- 
ment's reflection to know that the further usefulness of 
that particular tent, so far as we were concerned, was 
at an end. What use it might have been to the diges- 
tive apparatus of the mule is another thing. 

So we consulted Orderly Sergeant Wells, and he ad- 
vised us to consult the captain, or rather the acting cap- 
tain, Lieutenant Scott. The latter made out a requisi- 
tion on the quartermaster for the respective two sections 
of "one shelter tent." We went to the quartermaster, 
but he had run out of a supply of tents, and he made a 
requisition on the brigade quartermaster and handed it 
to us. The brigade quartermaster sent us to the divi- 
sion quartermaster and the latter sent us to the corps 
quartermaster — all for one "pup" tent! 

When we got to corps headquarters, we were kept 
waiting a long time for the convenience of the high and 
mighty official who had charge of the government 
clothing and tailorshop for that particular branch of the 
army. There were a lot of other fellows from other 
regiments waiting their turns for various articles for 
which requisitions had been made. 

One of the men was a soldier from our own brigade, 


a member of the Twenty-seventh Indiana. "We got 
talking together and among other things we told him 
about the mule eating up the "pup" tent. 

"Oh, that's nuthin'," said he. "Them air mewels 
are a curus critter, them are. Givvum a chance, 'n 
they'll eat a hull muskit, bayonet 'n all. But the 
funniest thing of 'em all is to see 'em shoot a cannon 
from atop a mewel's back." 

"What!" I interrupted; "shoot a cannon from a 
mule's back? What are you giving us?" 

"That are the dead shure fac'," was the Hoosier's 
reply. "I've seen it done many a time. They jis' 
strap the cannon — a howster (howitzer) is what they 
call 'em — on the mewel's back. They load the guns 
up, turns the head o' the mewel to the Johnny Rebs, 
and pulls the string." 

"And shoot the cannon from the mule's back?" I 
asked iacreduously. 

"Shure's you're livin'. The muzzle of the cannon 
are p'inted to'ards the head o' the mewel, and when the 
gunner gits ready for to shoot, the mewel he hangs 
down his head, ye know, and stretches out his four legs 
to the four p'ints o' the compiass, like the legs o' a saw- 
back, ye know. That gives the mewel a solid footin', 
d'ye see, so that the shootin' o' the cannon can't knock 
the mewel over." 

"How do they teach the mule to hold his legs that 
way?" I asked, "seeing the mule is such a stuDid 

"They don't teach him nothin'. He hes sense enough 
to l'ara himself. The fust time the cannon are shot 
from the back o' the mewel, it jist knocks the mewel 
clean over. He luks around kind o' scared like, a won- 
derin' if that air cyclone struck any one else. Then he 
tries to shake off the cannon When the mewel finds 
that the cannon are a tight hold on his back, he gits up 
and kind o' concludes, cYye know, that there have been 
some sort of a mistake like. The secon' time he 
reckons, d'3 r e know, that there ain't bin no mistake. 
And the third time, he squars off his four huffs." 

"And don't get knocked over, oh?" I asked. 

"That's whare ye're right, parcl. And you oughter 


see the 'spresshun on the mewel's eyes just then. He 
don't say nothin' but he jist looks as how he were say- 
ing to himself, 'Golly, but I fooled 'em that time for 
shure.' After that, every time the mewel hes sense 
enough for to stretch out his four legs and brace himself 
for the kick o' the gun. It are a queer sight I kin tell 
you, pard, but it air as true as the gospil, as you'll see 
for yourself, afore you are long in the sarvice. But 
come, here's a chance for to get our accuterments. " 

Strange as this may seem, the story given us b} T the 
veteran from the Twenty-seventh Indiana was literally 
true. Small cannon were strapped to the backs of the 
mules and actually fired therefrom, and the conduct of 
the mule on such occasions was just as described. 
These mule guns were called "mountain howitzers," 
and fired a shot of perhaps three pounds. Old soldiers 
have told me that the mules got so used to it that they 
did not stop nibbling at the twigs while the cannon was 
being shot from their backs ! 

Afterward I many a time saw a mule trudging along 
with a cannon strapped on his back, but I cannot say 
that I ever saw any of the shots fired. The cannon that 
I saw shot off were always on wheels. But these mule 
guns comprised quite an important adjunct to the army, 
and many a time, as said before, I have seen the ani- 
mals clambering over the mountains thus equipped. It 
is a somewhat singular thing that I never saw any 
mention of this fact in any of the war books that I ever 
read, and doubtless the statement even now will be met 
with incredulity on the part of some readers. But 
nevertheless I can assure them that it is absolutely true. 

After the usual delay and expenditure of red tape, 
Hank Van Orden and I got our new "pup" tents and 
made our way back to the regiment, arriving there just 
in time to be detailed to go on picket. 

I had never been on picket. I had been on guard, 
both around the camp and to guard wagons and cattle, 
but this was the first time I had been assigned to the 
dignity of a picket. 

The picket is "mounted" in about the same manner 
as the ordinary guards, and a guard mount was some- 
what imperfectly described in one of the opening chap- 


ters of this story. In ordinary guard duty, the head- 
quarters of the guard is a "guard house." In picket 
duty it is a little different. 

The officer of the guard has charge of a certain num- 
ber of men on picket duty. The men are divided up 
into squads under charge of sergeants. Each squad is 
composed of three times as many privates as there are 
posts to guard, and three corporals. The privates stand 
on their posts two hours, and then have four hours' 
rest. "Two on the four off," is the laconic way it was 
expressed in army parlance. 

The "first relief" serve from 9 to 11, the second from 
11 till 1, and the third from 1 till 3, when the first relief 
comes on again, and so it goes throughout the twenty- 
four hours of the day and night. The corporals serve 
the same way, although they are not on post. They 
hang around the camp fire, ready to respond to any call 
from any of the men on guard. 

"Corporal of the guard, post No. 6," is a call fre- 
quently heard. It may mean anything. It may mean 
that the picket is confronted by the enemy, or it may 
mean that he wants a drink of water. It is the cor- 
poral's duty to wait upon him. For that reason al- 
though a corporal was of higher rank than the private, 
the former was frequently dubbed by the name of 
" waiter." 

The sergeant stayed at the headquarters of the "picket 
post," which usually consisted of nothing more than a 
good fire in some convenient place along the line. 
The sergeant had the command of the pickets of that 
particular post, which might include a dozen or more 
places where the privates were stationed. The corporal 
reported to the sergeant, and if the problem presented 
was more than the sergeant could solve, he reported to 
the officer of the guard. 

The difference between guards and pickets is this: 
Guards are merely men stationed around some internal 
part of the army. Pickets are the men stationed on the 
extreme outer edge. In other words there is nothing 
between the pickets and the enemy — that is if there is 
any enemy in that particular direction. Whether there 
is or not, there is always supposed to be. 


I was on the second relief — that is, on duty from 11 
to 1 o'clock, and my first post was on the road along 
the Potomac River, at the foot of Maryland Heights 
and about half a mile up the river from opposite Har- 
per's Ferry. 

It was a beautiful day. The rain had cleared off and 
the skies were bright. Any one who has been there 
knows that it is one of the most picturesque spots in the 
country. I felt good and for the first time since my 
enlistment seemed to enjoy the experience of being a 

Here I was, I thought, on the outskirts of the Union 
army, with nothing between me and the Confederate 
army. I felt and enjoyed the responsibility of reflect- 
ing that so many men were under my watchful care. 
How faithful I would be. I imagined to myself how I 
would defend my post if any of the enemy's pickets 
should make their appearance. 1 would defend it with 
my last drop of blood, of course. 

So I thought. If an enemy's picket had made his 
appearance I most likely would have suddenly de- 
camped. But the enemy did not appear. As a matter 
of fact there was not a rebel within miles. How easy 
it is to be brave under such circumstances, although of 
course I did not know. 

I had been very carefully cautioned not to let a living 
soul pass my post without the countersign. The coun- 
tersign that day was "Manassas.'' I had of course 
heard of the tricks played on John Ick and the other 
green ies, but they couldn't come any such game as that 
over me. Not much ! 

Pretty soon I heard a clanking of swords, and a largo 
number of brilliantly uniformed mounted officers ap- 
proached. Who should the head one be but General 
George B. McCleilan himself ! 

I had seen General McCleilan several times, and 
knew him by sight perfectly. As he approached he 
came up to me and I brought my rifle to a "present 

"Do you know who I am?" he asked. 

"Of course I do," I answered. "You are General 


"And these officers are members of my staff," said 
the general. "Yon must keep your musket at a 'present 
arms' while they all pass." 

"All right, general," I responded, and I kept my 
rifle sticking out in front of me according to the way the 
tactics called for a "present arms." 

I looked down to the next picket, another Thirteenth 
boy, and saw the same maneuver enacted there, and so 
on till the gay cavalcade had passed around the bend of 
the rocks. 

I felt highly honored with the idea of having pre- 
sented arms to General McClellan. What a story it 
would be to tell to the boys at camp. 

What a story it was, indeed ! 

In less than half an hour after, the entire section of 
picket guarded by the Thirteenth's boys were relieved 
and marched back to camp and locked up in the log hut 
called the "guard house," or prison. 

"What is this for?" we asked indignantly. "Who 
ordered that we should be locked up?" 

"General McClellan," was the answer. 

"What for?" 

"For letting him and his whole staff pass you with- 
out the countersign !" 

"Well, I'll be d — d!" said Lem Smith, one of my 

And so said we all of us. 

the young volunteer. 191 



Well, wasn't this a nice predicament? 

After all the instruction we had received ! After all 
the fun we had poked at John Ick and the other fellows 
for being so green as to let officers pass them without 
giving the countersign, to think that we — we, who con- 
sidered ourselves more than ordinarily well posted and 
on the alert, should be found guilty of the same stupid- 
ity, was too much altogether. 

Of all the chagrined and ashamed lot in the guard 
house that day I do not think there was a single one 
who .thought for a moment of making any excuse for 
himself. We had been found remiss in one of the sim- 
plest duties of a soldier, and had been caught in a trap 
that was considered only fit for greenhorns. And we 
had by this time begun to look upon ourselves as veter- 
ans, although in the service scarcely more than a 

But we ought to have known better, that's sure 
enough. When a picket is given orders to allow no one 
to pass without the countersign, it means everybod3 r , 
from the lowest private to the commanding general of 
the army, or even of the President of the United States. 

As for myself I was blinded by the magnificence of 
General McClellan's staff. Or perhaps I imagined on 
the spur of the moment that of course the highest officer 
in the army could come and go as he chose, countersign 
or no countersign. Be it as it may, we all recognized 
the stupid blunder we had made the moment we were 
told why we had been arrested and by whose order. 

Not only the comparatively green pickets of the 
Thirteenth New Jersey and some of the equally green 
New York regiment that was brigaded with us, had 


been caught in the trap, but also some of the members 
of the Twenty-seventh Indiana and Third Wisconsin, 
who certainly ought to have known more, had been 
hauled in for the same offense. It seems that on the 
retreat from the Peninsular discipline had become some- 
what relaxed, and it was a common occurrence for the 
guards and pickets to let the high officers pass without 
question, and ^such a thing as demanding the counter- 
sign from them, in spite of the strict orders that had 
been given, had never entered the minds of these veter- 
ans. So it was that they fell into the same trap. 

I cannot tell how many men were arrested that day 
for the same thing — there were a good many. It was 
only intended as a sort of object lesson to teach the men 
that orders were to be more strictly obeyed thereafter, 
particularly in regard to picket duty. So the punish- 
ment in this instance was nothing more than a repri- 
mand, and a warning not to be caught in the same trap 
again. We were kept in the guard house, however, for 
several hours before we were thus disposed of, and dur- 
ing that time we were picturing all sorts of punishment 
for our remissness. 

It was a good lesson to us all, for never again were 
we caught in the trap of letting any one pass without 
the countersign when on picket, no matter who it might 

It was while we were at Maryland Heights that we 
were introduced to something new about army life — the 

If ever another war breaks out and I conclude to 
enter the service, I think I will be a sutler. At the first 
sign of a fight, the sutler mysteriously disappears and 
never turns up till the danger is over. Sutlers always 
got rich. They had a regular bonanza. Perhaps the 
majority of the readers of this do not know what the 
sutler was. 

In the midst of camp one day some men began to put 
up a big, square tent. It was larger than the tent oc- 
cupied by any of the officers. It was high and commo- 
dious. Wagons began to be unloaded of boxes and 
barrels and mysterious-looking crates. They were 
taken inside and the flaps of the tents drawn, while the 


actors inside got the properties arranged for the per- 

In the morning our eyes were dazzled with the lay- 
out. The upper part of two sides of the tent were rolled 
up, displaying on a sort of counter the most tempting 
assortment of articles. There were pipes and tobacco 
galore, boxes of sardines and tomatoes, butter in her- 
metically sealed glass jars, ginger snaps and cakes, 
apples, potatoes, fresh bread, herring and mackerel, 
dried apples, prunes and peaches, figs and dates, 
oranges, soda water and ginger pop, and a thousand 
other things that were likely to tempt the palates of 

And there were various articles of wearing apparel of 
a finer texture than that furnished by Uncle Sam, such 
as better stockings, finer shoes and long-legged boots, 
leggings, rubber overcoats, handkerchiefs, writing 
paper and envelopes, and in fact no end of articles in 
the fancy goods line. 

Nearly every regiment in the army had its sutler. 
These things were sold to the officers and soldiers, and 
the trade was a good one, while the prices were some- 
thing outrageous. You had to patronize the sutler of 
your own regiment or go without, and pay whatever 
was charged for the articles desired. 

We were nearly all in need of tobacco, which was 
about the first thing sought for, and although it was 
villainous tobacco, half chips, it was better than smok- 
ing oak and laurel leaves, to which strait some of us 
had been reduced. The tobacco sold by the sutler was 
mostly known as the "Garibaldi" brand. It bore a 
gorgeous picture of the patriot in a red shirt and dark 
trousers, so he looked like a member of a volunteer fire 
department. Ask any old soldier if this description of 
the wrapper on the smoking tobacco used in the Army 
of the Potomac does not remind him of old times. The 
tobacco itself looked and tasted like pine sawdust, and 
had about as much flavor when smoked. 

"I'd like to have some of that tobacco," said John 
Butterworth to me, "but I haven't a cent." 

"I'm busted myself, Jack," said I, "but let's go and 
see if we can't stand him off for a paper of the tobacco." 


Butterworth agreed to this proposition and we ap- 
proached the tent of the sutler. "Say, Mr. Sutler," 
said I, "we fellows want some tobacco, and haven't a 
cent. Do you trust?" 

"Oh, yes," was the reply. "You can have anything 
you want not exceeding the pay due you. You have 
been in the service for a month and consequently your 
credit is good for thirteen dollars." 

"Say, Jack," said I to my comrade, "this is a snap. 
Let's lay in a stock. He'll have a time to collect it, 
won't he? There's no justice of the peace or constable 
around here to make a levy, you know." 

"There's some trick about it," replied Jack, "or he 
wouldn't be so willing to trust. However, we will try 
it and see. ' ' 

I chose a new briar pipe, price one dollar — anywhere 
else twenty- five cents. For a ten -cent paper of smok- 
ing tobacco the price was a quarter. Fifteen cents was 
charged for a plug of "niggerhead" chewing plug. I 
also paid fifty cents for about ten cents worth of paper 
and envelopes. 

Total, one dollar and ninety cents. 

The butter in the jars looked tempting. I hadn't 
tasted butter for over a month. The butter was done 
up in little muslin bags, and these were placed in a 
glass jar, which was hermetically pealed. Altogether 
the butter was supposed to weigh one pound. 

"How much for the butter?" I asked, holding up the 

"Twenty shillings," I was informed. 


"Two dollars and a half." 

"Two dollars and a half for a pound of butter?" 

"That's the price," said the sutler. And he ex- 
plained the difficulty of getting butter to the front and 
caring for it in such a convincing manner that I became 
satisfied that two dollars and a half a pound was not 
only reasonable, but, under the circumstances, very 
cheap indeed. 

I invested, thus running up a bill of four dollars and 
ninety cents. It was the last pound of sutler butter 
that I ever bought, for it was a delusion and a snare. I 


guess it was nothing but colored lard — and very stale 
lard at that. We simply couldn't eat it — and when a 
thing is so bad that a soldier cannot eat it it must be 
bad indeed. 

John Ick was disgusted with the sutler because he 
could not supply his demand for "ein glass lager." 
Reddy Mahar pleaded iu vain for a little of "the old 
stuff," for in the rear end of the tent could be seen some 
bottles marked "Bourbon." The proper brand of 
whiskey in those days was "Bourbon." Such a thing 
as "Rye" was hardly ever heard of. 

But the sutler could not sell intoxicating liquor to the 
enlisted men. It was against the regulations. These 
regulations did not apply to the commissioned officers, 
and some of them took advantage of the exceptional 
privilege. Lieutenant Scott was good to me in that 
respect, however. I did not take much to whisky, but 
enjoyed the opportunity to get it because it was "forbid- 
den fruit." 

Not infrequently, with all these precautions, one 
would see a drunken soldier. How he got his liquor 
was always more or less of a mystery, but generally on 
such occasions there would be found a bottle or so miss- 
ing from the sutler's tent. 

I thought the sutler was very generous in giving the 
soldiers so much trust, and often wondered how he 
could collect all his bills. But I found out at the first 
pay day. We were getting two months' pay — twenty- 
six dollars. When the paymaster called me up for my 
pay I signed my name at the edge of the big sheet of 
paper and the clerk handed me eight dollars. 

"How's this?" I asked. "Here's only eight dollars, 
instead of twent} r -six." 

"That's right," answered the paymaster, with an 
imperious wave of the hand. "We have deducted your 
bill on the sutler, amounting to seventeen dollars and 
twenty-five cents. ' ' 

Ah, I had discovered how the sutler collected his bills 
— why he was so willing to trust the soldiers. He had 
the bulge on us, sure enough. That was a nice arrange- 
ment, wasn't it? 

"But hold on, major," said I, after making a hasty 


mental calculation. "You say my bill at the sutler's 
was seventeen dollars and twenty-five cents, which 
amount, taken from twenty-six dollars, leaves eight 
dollars and seventy-five cents, and you have only given 
me eight dollars. That is seventy-five cents short." 

"Haven't time for explanations," answered the auto- 
crat. "Ask p your captain. Campbell" (calling the 
next name on the roll). 

"You see," said Lieutenant Scott, explaining the 
matter to me afterward, "the paymaster has no change 
and can only pay the even dollars. The seventy-five 
cents will go to your credit on the next pay roll." 

That was the rule. The sutler came first, the odd 
change next, and the soldier got what was left. The 
cash I received for my first two months' service in the 
army was accordingly eight dollars, four dollars a 
month, a dollar a week — and found ! 




We all made up our minds that the sutler would, not 
get such a large proportion of our pay the next time, 
but these good resolutions did not amount to much when 
the time came. And let me interpolate that a soldier's 
remuneration was never referred to as "wages" or 
"salary," or any other term than "pay." That was the 
only word ever used in connection with the compensa- 
tion received from Uncle Sam for our services. 

As said, the good, resolution not to let such a large 
proportion of our "pay" fall into the hands of the sut- 
lers was easier made than kept. Mild as it was, it was 
the only source of dissipation within our reach. The 
bill of fare provided by the government was very 
limited, and in a short time it became extremely monot- 
onous. There was scarcely a day that there was not a 
demand for some little luxury or convenience from the 
sutler's tent. 

With us young fellows this drain on our income did 
not amount to much, but married men, who had fami- 
lies at home who needed every cent that could be sent 
to them, had to be more economical. And the people at 
home probably never had the slightest comprehension of 
the privation and discomfort that their husbands and 
fathers went through in order to save every cent. That 
was patriotism from a domestic economy point of view. 

There were some occurrences at Maryland Heights 
that filled us with indignation, in the shape of the resig- 
nations of several of the commissioned officers. A pri- 
vate soldier was enlisted and bound fast "for three 
years unless sooner discharged," but the commissioned 
officers had the privilege of resigning and going home 
whenever they saw fit, although it was generally re- 


garded as arrant cowardice for one to resign on the eve 
of an impending battle. In such cases, however, as a 
general rule, the resignation would not be accepted. 

But there were several resignations among the officers 
at Maryland Heights. They "knew when they had 
enough' ' and ' ' wanted to go home. ' ' So did we privates, 
but we couldn't "go home." Of course all the resign- 
ing officers had "urgent business" or "sickness in the 
family" that required their immediate presence in the 
vicinity of the domestic hearthstones, but an altogether 
different interpretation was placed on these resigna- 
tions by the average soldier. 

Sometimes, under very extraordinary emergencies, a 
private could get a short leave of absence or "fur- 
lough," to go home, but one had to have a "pull" to 
obtain this inestimable privilege. It is easier for a 
camel to go through the eye of a sewing-machine needle 
than it is for a private soldier to get a furlough. 

To their credit be it said, there were no resignations 
in Company K. We had at that time but one commis- 
sioned officer — Lieutenant Scott — and he stuck by us. He 
was daily expecting his commission as captain and that 
was another incentive for his remaining. But the mem- 
bers of Company K were not slow in expressing their 
opinions of thos9 officers that did resign. Of course our 
friend John Ick bobbed up serenely on this occasion. 

"Dey vas a lot of d — d cowyards," he said. "Dey 
gets us here by the front alretty, mid den dey goes back 
by us all the times, by jimminey. Dey drives us 
likes ein lot o' sheeps by the schlaughter haus, nnd then 
dey runs avay. Dey was cowj'ards!" 

The juxtaposition of "cowyards" and "slaughter 
houses" was a better pun than John had any idea of. 
But that is what he said, and he expressed the senti- 
ments of a good many others. These adverse comments 
went to such a length that there was a warning that if 
the boys did not keep their mouths shut on the subject 
they would likely be disciplined for disrespect toward 
their superior officers — an unpardonable sin, by the way. 

At Maryland Heights we began to get our first mail 
from home. It is impossible to describe the delight and 
satisfaction to a soldier to receive letters from home. 


I received two. One was from my uncle, and another 
from — well, no matter. 

I also received a copy of the Guardian — the paper on 
which I had worked — the one containing the particulars 
of the battle we had recently passed through. Then for 
the first time we learned the name of the battle — "An- 
tietam." We had always imagined that it would be 
called "the battle of Sharpsburg," because it was near 
that village. But the Northern newspapers and histo- 
rians named it after the creek — Antietam — and so it has 
been known ever since — throughout the North. 

The Southern people named it by its natural and more 
proper appellation, it seems to me. They have in their 
histories no "battle of Antietam." With them it is 
"the battle of Sharps burg." The theory adopted by 
the Northern historians was an old one. Cities and 
towns maybe destroyed or otherwise disappear, running 
streams never. The name of the location of a great 
event is accordiugly taken from some permanent land- 
mark or watermark. Hence, "Antietam," from the 
creek, rather than "Sharpsburg," from the village. 

I remember the articles about the battle in the Guar- 
dian distinctly. It had a lot of flaring headlines and a 
long list of the killed and wounded. I forget whether 
it was in this battle or some other one that I was reported 
among the killed. I had the pleasure (?) of reading my 
own obituary at least once in my life. I often wonder 
when the genuine article is published if it will be so 
complimentary ! 

It afforded an intense pleasure to read that paper 
from home. The local news was specially interesting. 
I saw that more of my old companions had subsequently 
enlisted in the army, in other regiments, and I began to 
wonder if there was anybody left at home at all. But 
1 looked in vain among the list of those who had gone 
to the war for the names of those patriotic orators who 
had made the speeches from the steps of the old bank 
building on Main Street. 

Nearly all the boys had received letters from home. 
Some of them contained bad news, telling of trouble or 
sickness, and these made the recipients very down- 
hearted and unhappy. I was more than ever glad that 


I had no one dependent upon me. The letter from my 
uncle told of the trouble he had to get out the Guardian, 
now that all his printers had gone to the war. He said 
that he had even to put one of the girls at work on mak- 
ing up the forms. I showed the letter to Davy Harris. 

"Joe," said he, "do you remember how I kicked at 
being called up from the job room to make up the forms 
when Joe Mosley was sick? Well, I wouldn't kick at 
such an order now, you bet. What fools we were to 
leave that job and come here. But there's no use cry- 
ing now. We are in for it, and that settles it. So Joe 
Mosley has enlisted too, has he?" 

"So it seems," I replied. "Guess he will find it a 
little different from setting advertisements and making 
up the forms, eh?" 

The conversation was interrupted by an order to fall 
in tor drill. 

And by the way, the drilling began to be incessant, 
and it was very tiresome. The boys were all more or 
less weakened from the effects of that magnesia spring, 
and the exposure of army life had begun to have other 
effects upon us. So far as I was concerned, this sort of 
life rather agreed with me. I had always had a rather 
indoor occupation — at least for some years before I en- 
listed — and the outdoor air was building me up. There 
is nothing like the fresh outdoor air for health, even 
with all its discomforts. 

With drills and picket duties we were kept busy dur- 
ing the time we were at Maryland Heights. And so it 
ran on till the 26th of October, when we were informed 
that a new general had been assigned to the command 
of our corps — General Henry W. Slocum. He was to 
visit us the following day, and be formally "intro- 
duced." In other words, we were to have a "general 

Later in the evening we were thrown into a state of 
still further excitement. We were told to have our uni- 
forms neatly brushed, our guns cleaned to the highest 
pitch of perfection, and the brass work on our accouter- 
ments polished till we could see our faces in them. 

"What's up? What does all this mean?" I asked 
Sergeant Wells. 


"Why, don't you know?" he replied. "The presi- 
dent is coming." 

"The president? What president?" I asked, not tak- 
ing it in. 

"The President of the United States, of course." 
"You don't mean to say that President Lincoln is 
coming to see us?" 

"Yes, he will be here to-morrow to review us." 
I hastened down through the company to spread the 




In the meantime Lieutenant James G. Scott had re- 
ceived his commission as captain, "vice Captain Irish, 
killed," as the rolls had it. William H. Miller, for- 
merly a member of the Second New Jersey, had been 
appointed as first lieutenant in Scott's place, and soon 
after Heber Wells, the orderly sergeant, was appointed 
second lieutenant, while our old friend "Hank" (Henry 
Van Orden), was made orderly sergeant. 

Similar changes had been made in the other com- 
panies. In fact so many changes had been made that 
the various companies were practically newly officered ; 
but on the whole it was an improvement, for we were 
getting down to the practical hard pan only reached by 
service and experience. At the time mentioned in the 
preceding chapter therefore, the Thirteenth Regiment 
was getting down to a pretty good shape. The men 
had received considerable drill and knew the difference 
between "present arms" and "guard mount." 

I appreciated the fact that I had even made some 
progress myself. I could shoot off a rifle without shut- 
ting my eyes, and in the marksmen's drill I had on at 
least one occasion succeeded in hitting the edge of a six- 
foot target. I felt if I continued to improve at this rate, 
it would soon be dangerous for a rebel to stand in front 
of my gun if it should go off, and that if I only got a 
chance at the enemy the war would soon be ended by 
the total annihilation of all the fellows on the other 

I had also received a sort of a promotion. It was not 
a promotion in a strictly military sense, but it was a 
peg higher anyhow, and it involved certain enviable 


perquisites and privileges. In other words I had been 
dignified by the appointment of "company clerk." 

The clerk of a company makes out the different and 
apparently never-ending rolls and reports connected with 
the company. He is practically the captain's private 
secretary. He is most of the time during the day in the 
captain's tent, and his associates are more the officers 
than the enlisted men. The advantages of being a com- 
pany clerk consisted in being- excused from squad, 
company and other drills, and from guard duty, police 
duty, and other menial service. It did not excuse him 
from regimental or brigade drill, nor from picket duty, 
inspections or reviews. There was no excuse from these 
except for those on absent assignments or detached 

But the position of company clerk is altogether an 
enviable one, and much sought after. I received the 
appointment because I could write a good hand (those 
who see my writing now would never believe it) and 
because I was possessed of a certain degree of general 
intelligence that qualified me for the position. The 
place, by bringing the incumbent into close connection 
with the officers, gave him the advantage of certain im- 
portant information ahead of the general rank and file, 
which sometimes was a good thing. 

As said we had had a new general assigned to the 
command of our corps, General Henry W. Slocum. 
Our other general, Mansfield, had been killed at the 
battle of Antietam. 

"What sort of a man is this Slocum?" I asked of a 
member of the Second Massachusetts whom I met that 
morning. j 

"He's a rip snorter," was the answer. "He is a 
fighting man from way back. I tell you we will catch 
it now when we get into a fight." 

"Mine Gott und himmel," said John Ick, who stood 
near at the time. ' ' Ish he a more by dot schlaughter 
haus yeneral by dot under feller? I no likes dot. Now 
we gets kilt sure enough, alretty." 

And if it be true that General Slocum was a harder 
fighter than General Mansfield, it did not suit me either, 
not much. A man of peace would have been more to 

204 The young volunteer. 

my liking. But we were in for it, and what was tha 
use? The [government did not consult the private sol- 
diers as to who should be their commanding officers. 
Perhaps if it had we would have had better ones some- 
times. This was not the case with General Slocum, of 
course, for a better genoral never lived. 

As General Slocum died only a short time since, and 
his portraits were published by many papers in connec- 
tion with that event, most people are familiar with his 
appearance. They will remember his white hair and 
white mustache, and a generally blond appearance. 
He was an entirely different-looking man in the army. 

He was of course much younger then. His hair was 
a dark brown, and he wore a full beard, trimmed short. 
Most of the officers wore full beards in the war, not so 
much on account of appearance, but because it was sup- 
posed to be a protection against sore throats. But the 
principal reason was that the barber shops were not 
handy and the opportune for regular shaving was not 
possible. I remember General Slocum as he looked 
then because I had a specially advantageous opportu- 
nity to see him close by. 

It was my good fortune to be detailed for guard that 
day, and my still better fortune to be one of the men on 
guard at General McClellan's headquarters. It was 
a scene of great activity and magnificence. Extra tents, 
of a large size, had been set up, one of which was a sort 
of lunchroom, where a table was set that contained a 
marvelous collection, considering the situation. There 
were bottles galore, and numerous baskets of cham- 
pagne. The idea of such a thing as champagne and 
glass goblets to drink it from, struck me with wonder- 
ment, out there "in the front." 

Mounted orderlies and aids were galloping hither and 
thither with preparatory orders, and the number of 
handsomely uniformed officers wearing the stars of a 
general on their shoulder-straps was something won- 
derful. Many of the officers were from the ornamental 
detachment on duty at Washington, whose uniforms 
looked as if they had just come from the tailor's shop, 
and whose gold lace and bullion trappings were like 
those worn by the militia now. This was something 


oddly contrasting with the dull and dingy appearance 
of the uniforms and equipments of the officers who had 
been in active service in the front. 

To a soldier who had just been through hard marches 
and battles, there was a feeling of intense disgust for 
these "play soldiers," as they were called. It is said 
that a man with a fur-lined overcoat is always tantaliz- 
ing to a laborer in overalls. The same sort of a feeling 
seemed to overcome me and my companions at the sight 
of these gorgeously attired "West Pointers," with their 
clean and speckless uniforms, their bright golden trap- 
pings, and their airish eyeglasses. 

Soon there began to arrive some coaches. How funny 
they looked— coaches in the army, where the only 
vehicles are mule- drawn baggage wagons and cavalry 
saddles. But funnier still was the sight of some hand- 
somely dressed ladies getting out of the carriages^ 

Now it may seem strange, but with the exception of 
a vivandiere in one of the regiments of our corps, none 
of us had seen a woman since we passed through Wash- 
ington. Every man seemed to straighten himself up 
with dignity at the unwonted sight. I really don't 
know whether those ladies were handsome or not, but to 
our eyes they resembled angels. The bright ribbons, 
the dainty, flower-decked hats, the pretty wraps, and 
above all the bright parasols, lent an addition of color 
to the surroundings such as we had not seen in many a 

long day. 

These women were the wives and daughters ot the 
distinguished officers and officials of the govern- 
ment. Harper's Ferry is not such a long distance from 
Washington and the visit for them was a nice little ex- 
cursion trip. There were no rebels within miles, so 
that there was no earthly danger, but I imagined those 
women many a time after boasted about their having 
been "clear to the front" of the army during the war. 

The last of all to arrive were the commanding gen- 
erals of the different corps, and finally General McClel- 
lan himself with his brilliant staff. 

With these was the President of the United States, 
and some members of the-cabinet, all in citizens' clothes. 

How plain and funereal those plain black suits looked 


after having seen nothing but blue uniforms for so many 
weeks! It must be admitted that the contrast waa 
rather in favor of the soldiers — or rather the officers. 
The president wore a silk hat, which looked woefully 
out of place. 

With an imperious air some of the staff officers led 
the way into the collation tent, followed by the presi- 
dent and the other civilians. After them came some 
privileged army officers, and some of the ladies. If I 
remember rightly, however, the most of these remained 
outside, watching with interest the gathering army on 
the parade ground. 

As President Lincoln passed me, on my post at the 
entrance of the tent, I brought my rifle to a "present 
arms" with a click and a snap. I purposely endeavored 
to attract his attention, but he never noticed me no more 
than if I had been a wooden Indian in front of a cigar 

The distinguished party remained in the tent for some 
time. I could hear the popping of corks and clinking of 
glasses, the lively talk and the merry laughter. Ah, 
thought I, it's fun for them. Little do the most of them 
appreciate what real war is. I thought this way in my 
innocence. I did not appreciate then the worry, the 
anxiety and sleepless, troubled days and nights that were 
being passed by those who directed the war. 

Others than soldiers fight. There are heroes who 
never shot a gun or wore a uniform. 

In the meantime the vast army had got into position 
for the grand review. The different regiments and bri- 
gades, divisions and corps, were drawn up in line on 
the field, which from the elevated position we occupied 
we could see spread out like a cosmorama. It did pre- 
sent a beautiful sight, the straight lines, the thousands 
of soldiers, the glittering bayonets, the bright flags, all 
spread out there on the plain below us. 

Then the generals commanding the different corps 
mounted their horses and, accompanied by their staffs, 
galloped to their respective commands and General Mc- 
Clellan and his staff, accompanied by the president and 
his associates, and followed by many of the ladies, went 
out to the place selected for them where they could have 
a good view of the maneuvers. .. . 




"Attention! Present arms!" shouted General Mc- 

"Attention! Present arms!" repeated the various 
corps commanders. 

"Attention! Present arms!" reiterated the com- 
manders of divisions, and the commanders of the bri- 
gades, and the commanders of regiments, and the com- 
manders of companies, until the order had gone down 
to the furthermost soldier in the army. 

That is the way orders were given. It was mani- 
festly impossible for one man's voice to reach the whole 
army, so that the command went down in sections, ac- 
cording to rank, like the signal corps wig-wagged their 
messages from hilltop to hilltop. 

In an instant the entire army stood at a "present 
arms," and General McClellan turned, and with a 
graceful sweep of his sword, addressed the president: 

"Your excellency, the parade is formed." 

I don't know what the president said in reply, for it 
was in too low a tone. But he at once mounted a 
horse, as did those with him, and proceeded to move 
off. In the meantime the soldiers were ordered to bring 
their muskets from the uncomfortable position of a 
*' present" to a "shoulder" arms. According to the 
tactics then in use a "shoulder" was a "carry." 

President Lincoln, General McClellan and their bril- 
liant cavalcade of staff officers then galloped down 
toward the vast army. 

I will never forget the appearance of the president 
on that occasion. He was mounted on an enormous stal- 
lion, and sat in a Mexican saddle that was about four 
times too large for him. I think without exception he 


was the most awkward-looking man on horseback that 
I ever laid eyes upon. He was over six feet in height, 
slim as a rail, and naturally ungainly. On horseback 
he bobbed around in the saddle in the most uncomforta- 
ble sort of way. 

His long black coat tails streamed behind comically, 
and his "plug hat" looked as if it would bob off with 
every jump the horse made. The officers rode like cen- 
taurs, as if they were a part of their steeds themselves, 
which made the contrast all the more startling. To tell 
the truth, I was in mortal terror that the president would 
tumble off his horse. 

But he didn't. The bands played "Hail to the 
Chief," according to the orthodox rule, and the presi- 
dent. General McClellan and the big staff of gold tin- 
seled officers cantered down the line and back on the 
rear, and along the front of the next line and around 
that, until the magnates had seen the front and rear of 
every line of troops in the vast army. 

Then they returned to their starting point, called the 
"reviewing stand" and, still mounted, stood there for 
the second part of the performance, the "marching in 

To the private soldier this is one of the most arduous 
and exasperating of all drills. The men march around 
the reviewing stand in what is called "company front." 
That is, the} r march by flank, and the idea is that when 
the different companies pass the reviewing stand, each 
one shall present a perfectly straight line. 

On level ground and in single ranks this was com- 
paratively easy. In the front, in two ranks, with the 
soldiers treading on each other's heels, and over uneven 
ground — perhaps an old plowed cornfield or something 
of that sort, with intercepting rocks and stumps, 
bushes, hillocks, and furrows — it became almost an im- 

But the army on this occasion did remarkably well. 
From the position I occupied, as one of the guards at 
headquarters, I could see the whole thing as plainly as 
the president himself. Then for the first time I got an 
idea of what a big army it was. I forget the exact 
number in that particular review, All that I remem- 


ber is that it was something less than one hundred thou- 

What impressed me most was the number of cavalry- 
men and artillerymen, who came past after the infantry 
or foot soldiers. Then came the ambulance corps and 
the hospital brigade. 

Ugh! This made the cold shivers run down my 
back. It reminded me of the unpleasant and grewsome 
experience I had that night after the battle of Antietam. 

The grand spectacle was over at last, the assembled 
army broke up into its integral parts, and the president 
and general officers returned to the headquarters. 

As the president passed me for the third time that 
day, I again brought my musket to a "present arms" 
with a more vigorous movement than ever, so much so, 
in fact, that it attracted Mr. Lincoln's attention, and he 
turned and looked at me. 

Although I had really intended to attract his atten- 
tion, in order to see if he would remember that morning 
in the capitol rotunda well enough to recognize me, yet 
when I had succeeded in getting him to look in my di- 
rection, I was so startled that I nearly dropped my rifle. 

He paused and gazed at me intently, as if trying to 
remember something. I shook like a leaf in the wind. 
To say that I was embarrassed is no name for it. The 
incident was so marked as even to attract the attention 
of some of the officers, and they looked at me as if I was 
a culprit, for I suspect that they thought that I had been 
doing something wrong and had astonished the Presi- 
dent of the United States. 

I therefore felt considerably relieved when Mr. Lin- 
coln renewed his steps and disappeared in the tent. He 
evidently did not recognize me, and yet my face had 
apparently awakened some recollection. 

The corps commanders then came up and were for- 
mally introduced to the president and other dignitaries 
and to the ladies. The clinking of the glasses was re- 
newed, and it was still in progress when the "second 
relief ' came along and another soldier took my place. 

The president did recognize me, but could not at the 
time place me. The proof of this will appear later. If 
I could have had recognition from him then and there 


it would have been of immense advantage to me. I 
had been in the army long enough already to appreciate 
the advantage of "a pull." 

We had become quite familiar with some of the ad- 
joining regiments of our brigade. Frequent calls and 
visits were interchanged between the men from differ- 
ent States at odd hours. That night I spent some time 
in the camp of the Third Wisconsin. 

"Things look ticklish," said one of them. "That 
review by the president warn't for nothing." 

"What do you mean by that?" I asked. 

"Well, you see, pard," said the Wisconsin man, 
"whenever we are reviewed by the big guns, that means 
to see if the army is all right for a scrimmage. I never 
knowed there to be a review by the head general that 
we didn't have to git afore long. And when the presi- 
dent comes to see how things are, that means more than 
something ord'nary. I tell you there's go in' to be a 
scrimmage, and afore long at that." 

"Why," I replied, probably in the effort to console 
myself, "there are no rebels anywhere around here. 
No enemy, no fight. We are not likely to have a bat- 
tle with ourselves, are we?" 

"Don't you fret yourself, pard," he replied; "the 
rebels may not be very near, and they may not be likely 
to come our way. But what's the matter with our 
going to hunt 'em up. That's what we'll likely do 
afore long. Mind what I say, pard, we won't be here 
long. You can bet your next month's pay on that." 

That wasn't very consoling. We had scarcely recov- 
ered from the effects of one battle, and that ought to be 
enough for some time. In fact, I had had enough to 
last me for the remainder of the war. 

It struck me as a very inconsiderate proposition on 
the part of the government that we should put ourselves 
to any trouble to bunt up the enemy so long as the 
enemy was not bothering us. What was the sense of 
seeking trouble? If the rebels came our way, all right. 
We would fight them. But so long as they did not 
molest us, what was the odds? Why should we go out 
of our way to get into trouble? So far as I was con- 
cerned I was perfectly willing to stay right there on 


Maryland Heights for the whole "three years unless 
sooner discharged." 

The readers will perhaps get the impression that I 
was no fighter. Well, maybe not. But I can say one 
thing. I was not the only one. There were lots of 
other fellows who thought and spoke the same way that 
I did. 

Two days later we received orders to get ready to 
break camp. 

It immediately struck me that the Wisconsin veteran 
was right. That review meant something. The army 
had been found in fine condition and ready for another 
engagement. We were going to hunt up the enemy 
and give him another tussle. 

Some of the more restless men were glad of a change 
of some sort, but I would have preferred to have re- 
mained just then at Maryland Heights. 

It was not thought that we would move for several 
days, but on the night of the 29th of October (this was 
in 1862, remember) at about 9 o'clock, an order was 
whispered around camp hurriedly to fill in for a march. 
It was also reported that the rebels had made their ap- 
pearance at a spot a good deal nearer than any of us 

Certainly there must be something important on 
hand or the start would not have been made at that 
late hour of the night. 

But we were all surprised, after we had gone some 
distance, to find that we were retracing our steps, and 
were marching back over the same roads that we had 
come when we came from the battlefield of Antietam. 

Was there going to be another fight on the same bat- 
tle ground? 




Before leaving Maryland Heights, however, let me 
stop to relate one more incident that happened while we 
were in camp there. 

Captain Irish's watch, sword, papers and other effects, 
taken from the body by Sergeant Heber Wells, were 
still in Wells' possession. Heber was with the regi- 
ment at Maryland Heights, and Lewis Irish, the cap- 
tain's brother, had to make a journey thither to get 

Visitors to camp could not come and leave as they 
chose in those days, but were obliged to wait for cir- 
cumstances. Frequently they were compelled to wait 
in camp several days longer than they wanted to. 

Lewis Irish was a nervous, timid sort of a man. The 
deadliest weapons he had ever handled were a needle 
and a pair of shears. He was a man of peace and had 
an inborn abhorrence and horror of everything apper- 
taining to war. 

As a result he was in a state of nervous trepidation 
all the time he was out at the front, although as a mat- 
ter of fact there was really no more danger there than 
there was in the staid old village of Hackensack, where 
he resided. 

Mr. Irish was in a constant fear that the rebels would 
pounce upon the camps at any moment. One member 
of the family had been killed. He was the only re- 
maining brother. He didn't want the family name to 
become extinct ! 

At every unusual movement Mr. Irish would start. 
A stray shot from some soldier cleaning his gun would 
put him in a quiver. When the drum beat for reveille, 
guard mount or sick call, he would apparently imagine 


that it was the long roll for the whole army to fall in 
line of battle. 

While there Lewis Irish "bunked" with Heber Wells, 
of course. It was before the "pup" tents had arrived, 
and the boys had rigged up all sorts of outlandish huts 
"to keep off the dew," as they expressed it. 

Heber' s hut, like many others, was made of poles 
and cedar boughs. A couple of poles with notches on 
the ends, like clothes poles, perhaps six or seven feet in 
length, were driven into the ground about ten or twelve 
feet apart. Across these was laid a ridgepole. From 
this, and slanting down to one side, the other end rest- 
ing on the ground, were laid a lot of other poles, as close 
together as possible. 

This formed the framework for a rude sort of shed< 
The roof was composed of cedar branches and boughs, 
and the ground was covered with the same thing for a 
bedding. This arrangement was of course perfectly 
useless in case of rain, but it sheltered the occupants 
from the wind and was more comfortable than sleeping 
out-of-doors entirely. 

The occupants crawled in as far as possible when go- 
ing to bed, so that their heads were near the side where 
the roof came down to the ground. There wasn't much 
space over the heads of the sleepers. When they 
wanted to get out they had to carefully back out before 
attempting to rise. 

It was this peculiar characteristic of the improvised 
shed or hut that caused the mishap and scare that Mr. 
Irish sustained the last night he was in camp. It was 
quite a cool night, and he and Wells had snuggled them- 
selves tightly under the blankets in the furthermost end 
of the shed to escape the cold wind that was sweeping 

Either the lobscouse for supper or else perhaps some 
of the rich pound cake from home, had disagreed with 
Heber's internal department. Like Tit-Willow, maybe 
he "had a rather tough worm in his little inside." At 
all events, in the middle of the night he had a very bad 
attack of nightmare. 

All who had taken part in the battle of Antietam 
were still thinking of the horrible sights during the day 


and dreaming of it at night. The visit of Mr. Irish and 
the conversation about the death of the captain had per- 
haps renewed the scene in Heber's mind, and probably 
he fell asleep while thinking about it. When he had 
the nightmare he thought that he was again in the 

Heber suddenly arose in his sleep, and throwing off 
the blankets, rushed to the company street and began 
yelling at the top of his voice : 

"Hello, Hank, get the men out at once! Where's 
Dougherty? Get the men out quick, for the rebels are 
right on top of us ! For heaven's sake, hurry, men, or 
we'll all be captured! Where's Hank Van Orden? 
Where's Sam Dougherty? Why don't they get out the 
men? Fall in, Company K!" 

Wells yelled this out with such a loud voice that it 
aroused the entire company. Hank Van Orden ran 
half-dressed from his hut and grasped Wells around the 
waist, asking what was the matter. The other men were 
hastily buckling on their cartridge boxes and seizing 
their rifles. For a few moments there was a scene of 
the greatest excitement, and even the members of some 
of the other companies were aroused by the hullaballoo. 

In the midst of all this Heber awakened, for he had 
been fast asleep all this time and did not have the slight- 
est idea of what he was doing, and perhaps was as 
much astonished as any of the rest of them till an ex- 
planation was made. 

But the funniest part of it all was the experience of 
Lewis Irish, the deceased captain's brother. 

Hearing all the noise Mr. Irish sprang from his bed 
and attempted to jump to his feet. In doing so his head 
came in contact with the low roof of the shed, and gave 
him such a blow that it felled him. He was nearly 
knocked senseless. 

Irish thought that we were surrounded by the enemy 
and that a rebel had hit him a blow over the head with 
the butt end of a rifle. He thought that his day had 
come sure. He rushed out of the hut, exclaiming : 

"Oh, Heber, what shall I do? Where shall I go? 
Give me a pistol or a gun, so that I can defend myself! 
Which way is the enemy coming? Where's the on© 
that hit me on the head?" 


Wells had sufficiently recovered his sense3 to take in 
the situation, and undertook to pacify Mr. Irish. But 
he was too excited to be quieted at once. 

"Quick, quick, Heber!" he exclaimed. "Tell me 
what to do ! I can't stay here ! I am not a combatant. 
I am a citizen. I've no place here. Where shall I go? 
What shall I do? What " 

"That's all right, Irish," said Heber, trying to reas- 
sure him. "There's no danger. There are no rebels 
round here. I only had an attack of nightmare or 
something of the sort. You'd better get back to bed 
again, for there are no rebels within miles of here." 

"Yes, there is. Yes, there is," insisted Mr. Irish. 
"One of the scoundrels hit me on the head and almost 
killed me. I'm bleeding now from it." 

Heber lighted a candle, and sure enough the blood 
wae streaming from quite a serious wound on Mr. Irish's 
head. How it happened no one seemed able to guess at 
the time. A search was made around that part of the 
camp to see if there were any strangers lurking around, 
but nothing unusual could be discovered. The mystery 
remained unsolved until after Mr. Irish's head had been 
bandaged up and quiet restored, and Wells and his vis- 
itor pioceeded to return to bed. 

Then they found that immediately above the blankets 
where Irish had lain the poles of the low roof had been 
knocked out of place where Irish's head had come in 
contact with them. On one of the poles was a project- 
ing knob where a small branch had been cut off, and 
th?s had some hair and a particle of blood on it. The 
color of the hair corresponded with that on Mr. Irish's 
head. That was the place where he had bumped his 
head as he sprang from his bed. It had been a hard 
knock, too, for the wound on Mr. Irish's head the next 
morning was large and painful. 

But for the time being Mr. Irish thought sure that he 
had been hit in the head with a musket in the hands of 
a rebel. And no wonder. The startling yells and 
orders from Orderly Sergeant Wells in the middle of 
the night were enough to frighten almost anybody. 
Wells often laughed about the occurrence afterward. 
As for Mr. Irish, he had had enough of war. He 


made up his mind that he would not remain in the front 
another night if he had to walk all the way to Balti- 
more. But, fortunately, he managed to get transporta- 
tion that day and left for home, and never so long as the 
war lasted did he again venture to the front. 

Many a time afterward, before he died, a few years 
since, he laughingly referred to the adventure, and can- 
didly admitted that for a little while he thought that 
his earthly career was at an end. He thought sure that 
the camp was surrounded by rebels and that one of 
them had hit him on the head with the butt end of a 

"But what's the difference?" he often asked. "What 
difference does it make whether a man has his brains 
knocked out by the butt end of a musket or the gable 
end of a house?" 




The march on the night that we left Harper's Ferry 
was one of the hardest the Thirteenth ever experienced. 
I could neA r er see the necessity for it. There was no 
need of any such hurry. We were not going to get into 
a fight, despite the predictions of my friend in the Wis- 
consin regiment. We were only going back to Sharps- 
burg to relieA-e the troops of General Fitz-John Porter, 
who were doing duty as pickets along the Potomac 
River opposite Sheperdstown. 

The entire Army of the Potomac, with the exception 
of the Eleventh and Twelfth corps, had crossed the river 
and started over into Virginia, in pursuit of the enemy, 
while the two corps mentioned were left behind to guard 
"Harper's Ferry and the Potomac River." The 
Eleventh corps had taken our place at Harper's Ferry, 
and we — that is, the Twelfth corps — were sent further 
up the river. That there were some rebels in that 
neighborhood we soon found out. 

But as said before there was no necessity, so far as we 
could ever see, for the impetuous and hasty character of 
that night's march. Many of the men fell out from 
sheer fatigue. While at Maryland Heights the most of 
us had got new knapsacks, and despite experience had 
again loaded ourselves down with various useful 
things in camp, but altogether too much to carry on the 

The result of this was that the road was again strewn 
with all sorts of things which we would soon need very 
much. Had we marched a little more slowly we might 
have retained all these necessities. There were few who 
stuck to their loads. When we reached our camp, 


somewhere near morning, we were almost devoid of 
everything except our blankets and shelter or "pup" 
tents. And it must be remembered that the season was 
advancing and the nights were becoming uncomfortably- 

We went into camp near Sharpsburg, within but a 
short distance of the Antietam battlefield. Our duties 
consisted mainly of picket duty along the Potomac 
River. It was the first time we had ever been on picket 
immediately in front of the enemy. 

The rebels were on one side of the river and we were 
on the other ; we could see each other plainly. The river 
is narrow at that point, and when the water is low one 
can wade across, or step from stone to stone. At the 
time we were there the stones at the bottom could not 
be seen, but the river was shallow enough to wade 

On one side of the river was the Chesapeake and Ohio 
canal. This was the side we were on. The towpath 
was between the canal and the river. Between the tow- 
path and the river there was an embankment, and at 
various spots there were trees growing. 

Our picket posts were supposed to be on the tow-path. 
Where there were trees we got beh ind them. In other 
places we got down on the water side of the canal and 
behind the protection afforded by the sloping banks. 
There was not much water in the canal at that time, for 
there were no boats running then. 

These protections were very useful, for the rebels on 
the other side of the river kept popping away at us 
whenever they got a chance, and we fired back every 
time we saw an exposed head on the other side of the 
river. We had no change of pickets at night for a while, 
because of this danger. The sergeant and his squad of 
men would remain behind the protecting trees and em- 
bankment as long as it was daylight. 

I remember one day while on picket with John But- 
terworth. We were both down in the ditch of the 

"I wonder if there are any Johnnies on the other side 
now, anyway," he said. The rebels were always re- 
ferred to as the "Johnnies," The enemy invariably 
called us the "Yanks." 


"You'd better look out, Jack," I replied. " Don't 
run any risks with that cocoanut of yours." 

"I'm going to take a peep, anj-how," said John. 
And so saying he raised up his head so that his eyes 
were just over the level of the towpath. 


A bullet whistled by, uncomfortably close to Butter- 
worth's head. You would have laughed to see him 
dodge. His head went down as if he had been shot ! 

"By jingo, Joe," said he. "I could feel the wind of 
that bullet in my hair. I guess there are some John- 
nies over there after all. ' ' 

"No doubt of that, Jack," said I. "But say, wait a 
minute and see some fun." 

With that I took off my hat and placed it on the end 
of my rifle. Then I slowly lifted it up as if a soldier 
was taking another peep over the towpath. 

"Zip!" came another bullet. It came near my cap, 
but did not touch it. I drew the hat down quickly, as 
if the wearer were dodging, and a moment later stuck 
the hat up again. 

Another bullet, two, three, came whistling by, and 
one of them went plump through my cap. 

"Pretty good shooters over there, Joe," said John. 
"It's a good thing your head was not in the hat then, 
or you would have been a goner, sure." 

"If my head had been in that hat I wouldn't have 
held it there, you know. I merely wanted to see if 
there was any danger of those fellows hitting anybody. 
That settles it. I don't stick my head out there, in the 
daytime, you bet." 

"Nor I, neither," said John. 

I relate this to show the dangerous nature of the duty 
we were performing. In unguarded moments two or 
three of our men came near being shot, but the bullets 
missed their mark. 

It was most nonsensical sort of business, but then a 
soldier in the war is generally like the Irishman at 
Donnybrook fair. Whenever he saw a head he struck 
at it. 

In the night time one could walk along the tow path 
with comparative impunity. The rebels would fire 


random shots occasionally, but there wasn't much 
danger of their hitting anything in the dark. The 
grand rounds visited us and the officers of the guard 
very sensibly inspected the outer posts in the night 

This desultory shooting at each other's pickets from 
the opposite sides of the river was kept up for some time, 
and it was a constant nuisance and bother, let alone the 
dangerous part of it. It was very uncomfortable to 
patrol a beat on the inside of a canal bank. It was ex- 
asperating to see the river so close and yet impossible to 
get down to it. 

The first night I was on picket here I had an adven- 

It was after midnight and the night was very dark, 
For the reasons before stated there was no apparent 
danger then and I was walking along the tow path with 
my rifle carelessly hanging over my arm. 

All of a sudden I heard something creeping through 
the bushes near me. 

"Halt!" I cried, in the orthodox way. "Who comes 

But not a word came in answer. On the contrary the 
mysterious personage kept coming toward me. I felt 
my hair raise in terror. 

"Halt!" I repeated, still more peremptorily, at the 
same time cocking my rifle in readiness to shoot. 

But it didn't halt for a cent. 

I imagined all sorts of things — spies, midnight assas- 
sins, guerrillas, rebels detailed to go around and kill in- 
dividual soldiers, everything horrible. That it was 
anything else than a man I never for a moment imag- 

It became my plain duty to shoot. And yet then and 
there, under the extenuating circumstances that existed, 
I distinctly remember a horror at the idea of taking the 
life of a human being. It gave me the chills. 

But something must be done, and done quickly. If 
I didn't shoot it, it would shoot or knife me, and so 
there was nothing to do but to take the best aim I could 
and blaze away. 

How I managed to hit the mark in the darkness pf 


the night I don't know. But I did. It rolled over, 
struggled a moment and was still. 

I was too much agitated to go and see who or what it 
was. I didn't want to gaze upon the creature whose 
death I had caused. So I yelled at the top of my voice : 

"Corporal of the guard — post No. 10!" 

"What's the matter?" asked the corporal, as he came 
running up, out of breath. 

"I — I — I've shot a man," I stuttered. "He was 
sneaking up to me and would not stop when I hollered 
'halt' three times, and so I shot him. See if he is dead." 

The corporal proceeded to make an examination. 

"Yes, he is dead. Dead as a door nail." 

I thought I should faint. Dead ! I had killed a fel- 
low mortal. Horrible ! In battle you shot, and didn't 
know whether your individual gun had killed an} 7 body 
or not. There is a consoling uncertainty about it. 
But the thought ihat you, with your own gun, with 
your own hand, have been the cause of the death of any- 
body, is a terrible thing. 

When the corporal came toward me pulling the dead 
body behind him, I wanted to run away, but of course 
could not. 

"I'll share this with you in the morning, pard," said 
the corporal. "We will have a dandy dinner to- 

Dinner to-morrow! What did the corporal mean? 
Eat a human being? 

"Do you take me for a cannibal?" I asked, in aston- 

"A cannibal? What do you mean by that?" 

"I mean do you think I am going to eat the man I 
have killed?" 

With that the corporal broke out in a fit of laughter 
that I thought very uncalled-for under the circum- 

"A good joke, by thunder!" said he, as soon as he 
could recover his voice. "And did you really think 
you had shot a man?" 

"Why, of course I did," I answered. "What else?" 

"Take a look at the 'man' you have killed," said he, 
throwing the corpse toward me, 


I leaned down ^,nd examined it. Then I felt of it. 
Then I lifted the body up, and broke out into laughter 
myself. I was a little hysterical, too. The sudden 
revulsion of feeling was the cause, for the body before 
me was not that of a man. 

It was only a 'possum ! 




Sure enough, we had 'possum for dinner the next 
day, in a savory stew. 'Possum tastes a little like very 
3 r oung pork, but has a much finer flavor. We relished 
it immensely, particularly as it was the first time the 
most of us had ever tasted 'possum. 

The incident was duplicated many a time, for 'pos- 
sum was very plentiful in that part of the country, and 
scarcely a night passed but that the men on picket saw 
one or more. They generally traveled at night. Of 
course the size of a 'possum was nothing to be compared 
with a man, but in the darkness I could not see what it 
was, and I was terribly frightened and overcome for the 
few moments that I really thought I had killed a human 

Here let me tell the reader something strange. Experi- 
ence afterward made us very suspicious of a calf or a 
large pig creeping past us at night. Spies and scouts 
used to take calf hides and complete pig skins, and get- 
ting inside of them, crawl past the picket lines. More 
than one supposed pig or calf has been shot and the 
body of a man found inside the hide. 

Wolves travel in sheep's clothing, according to the 
Good Book. The little school geographies we had in 
the primary departments invariably had pictures of 
Indians in wolf's skin crawling toward the unsuspect- 
ing buffaloes In war times all such devices are re- 
sorted to by the scouts to get past the picket lines. 

About a week later I was on picket again, at pretty 
near the same place. The rebels had continued their 
popping at every Union soldier's head that they saw, 
and the Union soldiers had been keeping up their side 
in this nonsensical individual warfare. But one day 


we were astonished by an unusual sign on the other side 
of the river. 

It was a white handkerchief — or rather a handker- 
chief that had once been white — held up on the end of a 

A white flag is a "flag of truce.'" It means a cessa- 
tion of hostilities. If the other side agrees to the truce, 
an answering white signal is set. We had some trouble 
to find anything white enough to serve as a flag, and 
finally resorted to a small muslin bag that one of the 
boys had in his haversack to hold his sugar. 

A very dirty-looking rebel then stepped out, and hold- 
ing his hands to his mouth like a speaking-trumpet, 
yelled out: 

"Hey, Yank!" 

"Hey, Johnnie!" was our reply. 

"Will you stop shootin' if we-uns do?" 

"We will." 

"All right. We-uns' 11 send you a message." 


"Wait'n you'll see." 

We waited. We could see three or four of the dirty 
gray backs doing something down at the edge of the 
river, but could not see what it was, when something 
like a long, little boat started across. 

It was a very ingenious arrangement. 

A fence rail, one side of which was round and the 
other side flat, made something very much the shape of 
a boat. At intervals were stuck twigs, for masts. On 
the masts were sails made of paper. At the rear end of 
the rail was an improvised rudder. 

The man who concocted this arrangement, and ad- 
justed the sails and rudder must have been a sailor at 
some time in his life, for the gentle breeze that pre- 
vailed at the time brought it straight as if it had been 
manned by human sailors. 

We went down to the side of the river and caught the 
queer little ferryboat as it landed. 

On one of the masts was a sheet of paper folded up. 
Opening it, it was found to be the "message." It read, 
as nearly as I can remember it after so many years, 
about as follows : 


"Yanks : If you fellers stop a-sbootin we-uns will stop 
a shootin. Whats the sens of us a shootin at each 
uther? Lets be a little sochibul. Have you fellers any 
coffie what you'd like to swap for some tobaccy? We- 
uns has plenty tobaccy but no cofee, and we-uns knows 
what you fellers has lots of cofee and no tobaccy. Send 
anser by bote. Shift the sales and the ruder tother 
way, and she'll come over all right. Hoping these fu 
lines will find you enjying good helth, we subscrib 
oursels yours truly. Johnny. ' ' 

Anything for a lark. Here was a chance seldom 
offered. It struck me very strangely. 

All along I had regarded the rebels as something in- 
human. I cannot exactly explain it, but all of a sudden 
it came to me that here were fellow human beings on 
the other side, who as individuals were no more con- 
cerned m the war than we were, who were willing to 
stop the practice of killing on sight, and anxious to 
strike a common-sense, everyday barter. 

The impression such an event gave to the private sol- 
diers was that the war was a useless and uncalled-for 
affair, and might as well be stopped then and there. It 
is impossible to convey to the reader the precise emo- 
tions aroused. Somehow everything that had passed 
slipped entirely from the memory, and awakened a dim, 
unaccountable, indefinable vision of the way things 
might be if peace were declared. 

But we didn't stop to reflect or moralize. We had 
plenty of coffee, as the rebels had surmised, and were 
willing to share with the enemy, especially as it was al- 
ways reported that the rebels had an unlimited supply 
of tobacco of a superior quality. 

So we tied up in an old piece of paper as much coffee 
as it would hold, each man contributing his quota, and 
fastened it to the "boat." We also wrote a return 
"message," and stuck it on one of the tiny masts. As 
near as I can remember the message ran something like 

"Johnnies : We send you some coffee; now send the 
tobacco. We will stop shooting at your hats if you will 


do the same. What is the use, as you say? If you fel- 
lows go back on your word, now, look out. 


I wrote the original of that letter, and so have a pretty 
clear remembrance of what was in it. I remember dis- 
tinctly that I signed it "Yanks," the same as they had 
addressed us. 

We adjusted the sails and rudder of the little craft as 
suggested and sent the comical ferryboat on its journey 
across the river. But somehow or other we did not fix 
the nautical tackle right, and instead of going across, as 
intended, the improvised boat suddenly turned down 
stream and started in the direction of Harper's Ferry in 
a lively manner. 

If that message had got into the hands of some of the 
officers it might have caused us trouble, for to "hold 
communication with the enemy" was a grave offense 
— a good deal more grave than any of us appreciated at 
the moment. 

But no such disaster happened. The rail boat had 
not gone far before one of the rebels jumped into the 
river and waded out to the little craft and carried it to 
the Virginia side of the river. The water was not very 
deep. It was hardly up to the "Johnny's" hips. 

We could see them open the message and read it, and 
there was a scramble between them for a division of 
the coveted coffee. In a little while they sent the boat 
back again with some smoking tobacco that was excel- 
lent, and which we greatly appreciated. There was no 
message this time. One of the rebels shouted across the 
water that they had no more paper. 

But it was not a great distance across the river and 
we could talk to each other in a somewhat loud voice. 
This sort of a conversation was not very satisfactory, 
however, but it ended in a somewhat startling proposi- 
tion from "our friends, the enemy." 

It was, if we would receive them in the same spirit 
in which they came, they would come over the river 
after dark and have a "chin" with us. 

We counseled among ourselves about thia. It was 
a rather risky proposition — not so much that we would 


be captured by the rebels or that they would take some 
other advantage of it, but that we might be caught by 
some of the officers, with*disastrous results. 

But we finally decided to take the risk, and the ar- 
rangement was that our visitors should come over im- 
mediately after the "first relief" went on their posts — 
that is at 9 o'clock. 

And so the programme was carried out. The first 
relief had hardly taken the place of the third, when we 
heard the quiet splashing of the water from the little 
group of rebels wading over to us. 




For a picket post to hold communication with the 
pickets of the enemy is one of the things most emphat- 
ically forbidden by the articles of war. But that it was 
done many times during the course of the war is unmis- 
takable. There is many an old soldier who can testify 
to the fact from his own personal experience. 

If any of us thought of the magnitude of the offense 
he did not mention it. I know for myself, there was no 
idea of doing anything wrong. It was merely a little 
novelty that tended to relieve the terrible monotony of 
picket duty, and consequently simply regarded as a wel- 
come diversion. 

There were six in the party of rebels that came across 
the river. There were twelve or fifteen on our side, so 
that there was no danger of a capture or anything of 
that sort — at least so far as we were concerned. The 
greatest manifestation of trust and good faith bad cer- 
tainly been on the part of the "Johnnies," in the way 
they had put themselves in our power. 

They had further shown their trust by leaving their 
guns behind them. They were completely in our power 
if we had wanted to be mean. But we never thought of 
such a thing as that. 

"Hello, Yanks," said the spokesman, as he came up 
dripping from the water. "That was mighty good 
coffee you-uns sent we-uns." 

That was a Southern provincialism that may strike 
the reader as funny, but it was used almost exclusively 
in conversation on the part of the majority of men in 
the rebel army. They always said "you-uns" for 
"you," and "we-uns" for "we" or "us." 


"Hello, Johnnies," replied one of our boys, "and that 
was good tobacco you sent us in return. It was the 
best we have had in a long while." 

"Yes, we know the kind of tobaccy you-uns have. It 
comes from Baltimore, don't it?" 

We told them that they had guessed right. 

"We-uns gets our tobaccy from Virginny crop, put 
up in Richmond — the best in the whole world. You- 
uns don't get much o' that nowadays. You-uns' tobaccy 
is from Maryland, I reckon." 

We told the spokesman that we didn't know anything 
about it, except that it came from Baltimore. 

"Where be you-uns from?" asked the rebel spokes- 

We told him. We represented several Northern 
States. In return they told us that they were from all 
the way from Virginia to Texas. 

We sat down on the canal bank, and lighted our pipes. 
There was a fire on the canal side of the bank, which 
we had lighted for the first time after the agreement not 
to indulge in any more shooting. We boiled some 
coffee and proceeded to have a regular picnic. 

Both sides were a little guarded in the conversation 
at first, so as not to give offense to each other. But on 
the general topic of the war we had a nice talk. 

"How long do you-uns think this thing's agoin' to 
last?" asked one of the rebels. 

"Till you fellows give up," replied I banteringly. 

"If we-uns had our way," replied the Johnnie, "it 
wouldn't be long afore that happened. We'uns is good 
and sick of it. If it weren't for the officers and the pol- 
erticians, it would be settled mighty soon, I reckon." 

"There is something in that," I answered. "But 
you all know we of the North are fighting for the Union, 
which you want to destroy." 

"We don't want to destroy nothin'," answered the 
rebel. "We'uns don't want to destroy the Union." 

"Then what are you fighting for?" I asked. 

" 'Cause we have to," was the answer. "You-uns 
don't suppose we would be here if they didn't make us 
come, do you? Didn't they make you-uns come to fight 
the same way?" 


"No, we didn't have to come," I replied. " We en- 
listed of our own accord. We volunteered, you know." 

"What, went into the army and didn't have to?" 

"That's as true as gospel." 

"Well, I'll be derned," exclaimed the astonished 
rebel. "If we'uns didn't have to come I'll reckon there 
wouldn't be many of us in the front. Of course there's 
some of 'em what came at the first because they didn't 
want the Northern ablishionists to free our niggers. 
That's what the war's for, isn't it?" 

Now I am willing to affirm that that is the first time 
I ever had any idea that the abolition of slavery had 
anything to do with the war. And from the exclama- 
tions and denials of my comrades I do not think any of 
them ever dreamed of such a thing. We vehemently 
protested against this view of the case and so told our 
strange guests. But they could not be shaken in their 
belief that the freedom of the slaves was one of the 
essential causes of the war. 

"That's what we'uns believes, anyhow," said the 
spokesman of the party. "Now, see here. You-uns 
have factories and railroads and such like. Suppose 
we-uns went for to destroy all them, wouldn't you fight 
agin it?" 

"I think we certainly should," I replied. 

"Well, then," continued the rebel spokesman, "we- 
uns have no factories and few railroads. We have 
cotton fields and sugar-cane plantations. Our niggers 
do the work. We own 'em, the same as the planta- 
tions. You want to make our niggers free, and so take 
aAvay all our property. Then we-uns fight agin ib, see? 
You would do the same thing, I reckon." 

The slavery part of the question had never entered 
my mind, and I was not prepared to argue it. But I 

"I thought you said that you are fighting because 
they made you, and here you are saying that you are 
only defending your rights and what you call your prop- 

"I ain't talking for myself," said the rebel. "I was 
made to come. I don't own no niggers and never did. 
I worked in a grocery store in Montgomery. But I'm 


only telling you-ims what we-uns heard men say, what 

they are keeping up the war for. So far as we-uns here 
are consarned, none o' us have any niggers and we don't 
care how soon this thing stops." 

"Nor which side comes out ahead," chimed in 
another of the "Johnnies." 

This conversation, so odd and under such strange cir- 
cumstances, was kept up for some time, and then 
branched off into other things more personal, mainly 
reminiscent of the war. They were all old soldiers and 
had seen some hard service, and their stories w r ere very 

" 'Sh-h-h! Hark!" 

This came simultaneously from several mouths. We 
listened and heard voices further down the canal. It 
was at the next "post." 

"Who comes there?" we heard. 

"The grand rounds," was the answer we heard. 

Then there was a quiet scattering. We were intensely 
surprised. We had gauged our time so as to keep on 
the lookout for the grand guards. Generally they do 
not come around till after midnight. And yet it was 
not yet 11 o'clock. 

We hastily but quietly directed our rebel visitors to 
get behind the trees growing at the foot of the canal 
bank, at the edge of the river. They were thoroughly 

" You-uns ain't agoin' to give us away?" 

"Never fear of that," we assured them. 

The sentry on the nearest post, the sergeant and cor- 
poral of the guard, went about their business, as if 
faithfully doing their duty, while the rest of us hastily 
pulled our blankets around us and pretended to be 
asleep, as we were supposed to be. 

The grand rounds came along and were received in 
the customary fashion. 

'Everything all right here?" asked the officer of the 
day. a captain. 

"Everything quiet, sir," was the answer. 

"1 see some embers here. Have you been having a 

"Y-y-yes, sir," stammered the sergeant. 


"I thought the orders were not to light any fires on 
this line," said the officer. "It's rather dangerous. Put 
it out and don't light it again. It will draw the fire of 
the enemy." 

"They've not "been shooting at all to-day, captain," 
said the sergeant. "I guess there ain't any rebels on 
the other side now. We haven't seen any signs of them 
for some time." 

The sergeant was a good deal more correct about there 
not being "any rebels over there" than the captain had 
any idea ot. I saw through the subterfuge and could 
hardly keep from laughing outright. 

"Well, keep a strict lookout, sergeant," said the cap- 
tain, as he and the rest of the detail forming the grand 
rounds took their departure for the next post. 

When the way was clear we gave the signal, and the 
concealed rebels emerged from their hiding-places. 

"You-uns are a lot o' bricks," said the first one out. 
"You had us that time, if you wanted to go back on 

"Oh, we would never do a thing like that," was the 
reply, "after having given our words. But, all the 
same, you fellows had better get across again for " 

This advice was interrupted by a shot from a rifle, 
and the bullet came whistling past us and struck into 
one of the trees with a characteristic "zip!" 

Instantly there was a scene of great excitement. 
Every one of our picket guards sprang to his feet and 
seized his rifle. 

Our rebel visitors sprang into the river with a loud 
splash ! 




Although alarming for the time being, the combi- 
nation of occurrences that caused all the commotion pre- 
vailing at the conclusion of the preceding chapter was 
very comical. 

It transpired that the man on the next post had fallen 
asleep, leaning against a tree, as frequently happened. 
It is wonderful with what ease a soldier would fall 
asleep, standing up, leaning against a tree, or even 
on the march. And he would suddenly awake at 
the first start, like a nodding deacon listening to the 
drowsy sermon from an old-fashioned minister of the 
" thirteenth ly" sort. 

The sleepy sentinel heard the approach of the grand 
rounds, and to his half -awake mind it probably seemed 
like the approach of the entire rebel army. So, in a 
dazed sort of a way, he raised his rifle and blazed away. 

The startled grand rounds, hearing the bullet whistle 
past them, naturally imagined that they were being sur- 
rounded by a scouting party from the enemy, and they 
retreated hastily back to the next post, where we were, 
which was the headquarters of that particular section of 
the picket line. 

The bullet zipping past us, and the footsteps of the 
running grand rounds coming toward us, made us also 
think that the rebels were making some sort of a flank 
movement around us. 

The rebel visitors, hearing tbe shooting of the rifle and 
the whizzing bullet, perhaps thought that we had laid 
some trap for their capture despite our promises and 
pledge of immunity. 

The splashing of the retreating visitors in the water 


as they were scurrying across the river also added to the 
mystification of ;the officer of the day and his compan- 
ions of the grand rounds, and thus it was that every one 
of the different characters in the farce was for the time 
being startled, because of his ignorance of all the cir- 

"Halt!" our sentry called out, at the approach of the 
grand rounds on their backward movement. The usual 
exchanges were made and the countersign given. Then 
we began to speculate on the cause of that shot. Every- 
thing was quiet in that direction now. 

" 'Sh !" said the captain, who was serving as officer of 
the day. "I think it was a rebel scouting party trying 
to cross the river. I thought I heard them after the 
shot. Did you men hear anything?" 

We all solemnly averred that we had not. But at the 
same time we knew well enough what had made that 
splashing in the water. 

"Suppose I go up and see if there is anything the 
matter with the man on that post?" suggested our ser- 

"That's a good plan," said the officer of the day. 
"But you'd better take a file of men with you to be on 
the safe side." 

I happened to be one of three selected for this duty. 
"We crept cautiously and with as little noise as possible, 
and when we got near enough we heard sounds that we 
recognized as those attendant on the loading of a 

"Hello, Jack," said the sergeant cautiously, abandon- 
ing the usual formula for approaching a sentry, "what's 
the matter?" 

"Nothing," he replied. "Was that the grand 


"Well, they got on to me rather suddint, and I blazed 
away at 'em not thinkin'." 

"And you nearly scared the life out of the whole of 
us," said the sergeant. 

We returned to the post station and reported that 
everything was all right. The officer of the day was 
satisfied with that part of the explanation, but he was 


still dubious about that splashing in the water. He 
thought it strange that none of us had beard it, and it 
seemed to arouse his suspicions. Just then David 
Harris, who was with us, was smart enough to invent a 
story to get out of the dilemma. 

"I guess I can explain it, captain," said he. "There's 
a big iiock of ducks there feeding. I saw them before 
dark, and have heard them quacking several times. I 
guess that shot scared them, and their fluttering 
through the water was what we heard." 

Davy Harris' stupendous audacity at this ingenious 
invention excited my most profound admiration. 

"Ah," said the captain, "that must be it. But you 
boys must be careful for the enemy might make a feint 
at any time. Fall in, grand rounds." (This to his 
detail. ) 

The grand rounds then proceeded to the whilom 
sleepy sentry, who was wide enough awake by this 
time ; and was received "according to the regulations." 
He gave the captain some cock-and-bull story about his 
gun going off accidentally, but that didn't work. 
Official dignity had been insulted. A high-toned com- 
missioned officer could not be given such a scare as that 
with impunity. The sentinel was placed under arrest 
and another man put in his place. 

The fellow told us afterward how he had got asleep 
for sure, and was thoroughly startled at the approach of 
the grand rounds at such an unexpected hour. But we 
never gave him away, and beyond a few hours in the 
guard house he escaped punishment. 

In the morning we rigged up another rail ferryboat 
and sent a messenger over to our rebel friends on the 
other side, explaining the matter, as we did not want 
them to think that we had wilfully gone back on them. 

We expected to see them again, but did not. I was 
on picket two or three times afterward, but always at 
some other post. But we told the men who relieved us 
of what had occurred, and the nightly visits were kept 
up for some time. There is more than one private sol- 
dier of the Thirteenth who could testify to these facts 
to-day, and it was a pleasant and enjoyable innovation 
on the usual monotony of picket duty. 


I don't know if any of the officers ever "caught on" 
to it. I am inclined to believe that they knew nothing 
about it, at least at the time, or they might have put a 
stop to it. But then the officers did not know every- 
thing that was going on in those daj T s — not much they 

It was a frequent occurrence for the opposing picket 
posts to come together in this sociable manner, unless 
it was right before an expected battle, when the men 
were enemies in fact as well as in name. But by no 
means were the private soldiers thirsting for the blood 
of their brethren on the other side. 

And I never heard of advantage being taken by either 
side of those who thus trusted the enemy's pickets and 
put them on their honor as men. Perhaps if it had 
been a war between two different nations there would 
not have been such a thing possible, for there would 
have been a natural enmity and antipathy that could 
not have been overcome. But this was a civil war, of 
brother against brother, and the circumstances were 
somewhat peculiar. At the same time it cannot be 
denied that it was "holding communication with the 
enemy," although never, to my knowledge, was an in- 
formation given of each other's strength or movements. 
These intersectional calls and visits were always merely 
sociable and personal. 

When we had been on picket we were excused from 
drill and other duties the next day. We were supposed 
to take it to rest, and we generally did, unless a march 
was ordered. But on other days we had no end of drill- 
ing and dress parades and other military maneuvers, 
so that we were kept pretty busy, and no one complained 
of the want of exercise. 




An inspection is one of the bugbears of the soldier. 
Not only is this so in an active campaign, but it is so with 
troops in barracks and forts, and as much so in the reg- 
ular army, where a man makes it the business of his life, 
as it is in the volunteer service in time of war, when it 
is only an exigency. 

We were always notified of the coming of the inspec- 
tion officer. Of course we had an inspection by our 
regimental officers every Sunday morning while in 
camp, but the visit of the official inspector was another 
thing. It was a very useful thing, all must admit, but 
at the same time it was a perfect nuisance to the aver- 
age soldier. 

Upon receiving notification that the inspecting officer 
was coming every soldier proceeded to put himself in 
presentable shape. The first thing of all was to clean 
our rifles. They must be taken apart and cleaned to 
the acme of perfection. Not a particle of dust must be 
found anywhere upon them, and the polished parts must 
shine like silverware. 

This, with the limited facilities at our disposal, was 
no easy task. There was a dearth of old rags and other 
material with which to clean the guns. Sapolio, silverine 
and other polishing materials were not furnished by the 
government, but a fairly good substitute was found in 
common dry clay, which gave a pretty good polish to 
the metal work of our weapons. 

On the cartridge box at our side and on the belt 
around our waist there was a big brass plate, bearing 
the letters "U. S. , " and on the cross over the breast there 
was another brass plate bearing what was supposed to 


represent the great American eagle, but which in reality 
more resembled a turkey buzzard. I think it was John 
Ick who originated the name of "buzzard" in our com-^ 
pany, for he was always talking of the time when that 
bird would pick the flesh off his bones. That of course 
would be after he had passed through the ordeal of the 
"slaughter house." 

These brass plates had to be polished to the highest 
notch of perfection. And then the belts and shoes had 
to be blackened or polished, although at times it was 
hard to get blackening, and the unfair part of it was 
that we had to provide ourselves with this, purchasing 
it out of our own pockets from the sutlers. 

The clothes had to be neatly brushed and the entire 
toilet of the soldier made as respectable as possible. Not 
only that, but the knapsacks had to be packed in a cer- 
tain manner, with each piece laid in a particular part of 
the pack, and the blanket rolled so that the edges came 
in just a certain position. 

The whole object of this was to have everything in 
perfect uniform. The word "uniform" expresses the 
equipment of a body of troops exactly. Every man's 
apparel and equipment must be exactly like his fellow's. 
These things seem trivial, taken individually, but when 
it comes to a vast number of men the importance of the 
matter is obvious. 

On assembling for inspection the regiment forms in 
line the same as in dress parade and then wheels into 
companies. Then at a shoulder arms the inspecting 
officer and his assistants, accompanied by the staff 
officers of the regiment, take a hasty trip down the front 
of each of the ten companies in succession and then 
around the back. Then he starts again at the company 
on the right and proceeds to inspect the arms of every 
individual soldier. This is the crucial test. 

As the inspecting officer, who by the way was always 
a very airish and self-important official, with a strik- 
ingly arrogant manner, approaches each soldier, the 
latter holds up his gun in front of him in a certain pre- 
scribed manner, so that it is handy for the officer to 

The inspector seizes the gun with a snap and jump, 


something as a startled mother would grab a bottle of 
poison from the hand of a child. I don't know why 
they did it in this way, but the inspecting officers cer- 
tainly always did so. Then the inspector takes the 
rifle, examines it carefully and tries the trigger, as if he 
were in a store examining a new gun which he proposed 
to buy. 

The inspector invariably wore spotless white gloves 
to begin with. On the condition of those white gloves 
at the end of the inspection depended the percentage of 
perfection. The cleaner the gloves the higher the per- 
centage. The more soiled they were the lower the rate 
of credit. The result of the inspection was accordingly 
decided automatically, as it were. 

To begin with, the inspector would rub a finger under 
and around the hammer to see if he could find a speck 
of dirt there. But the next ordeal was the worst. I 
forgot to say that before handing the gun to the inspec- 
tor the ramrod had to be drawn from its sheath and 
dropped into the barrel of the rifle. The inspector would 
give the gun a sort of upward throw that would send 
the ramrod up a ways and let it fall back into the bar- 
rel. If there was a bright, bell-like, musical result, it 
showed that the barrel was clean, for if there was dirt 
there there would be a dull sound instead of the bell-like 

If there was any suspicion of dirt or dust the in- 
spector would turn the ramrod around on the bottom of 
the barrel, and twist the end of it on the palm of his 
white glove. Woe to the soldier if there was any dirt 
on the end of the ramrod to soil that white glove. 

When the inspector had finished examining the gun, 
he would throw it back with a force that would almost 
knock the soldier over in his efforts to catch it. The 
agility with which the soldier officiated in the catcher's 
box on such an occasion seemed to be an important 
factor in the inspector's opinion of that individual 

As win be imagined this inspection of every individ- 
ual in a regimentTof seven or eight hundred men was a 
slow and tedious process and the fatigue of standing 
there in line so long was one of the reasons why the 


ceremony was so much dreaded. But this part of the 
inspection was finally concluded. 

Then the soldiers had to open their percussion cap and 
cartridge boxes, while the inspector marched around and 
ascertained if they all contained the required comple- 
ment of ammunition. After that each soldier had to 
unsling his knapsack and lay it carefully on the ground 
behind him, open, so that the inspector could see that 
every article was packed according to the regulations. 
Every article had to lie just so, even to the manner of 
its folding. 

In times when the army was in camp, or otherwise 
so situated that the things discarded on the march could 
be replaced, every soldier had to have certain necessary 
articles and to show them to the officials on these period- 
ical inspections. This fact got John Ick and Keddy 
Mahar into trouble. 

The inspection near Sharpsburg was the first one 
wherein the inspector had pried into the interior of the 
knapsacks. On former occasions, only the outside of 
the "trunks" were examined. As a loaded knapsack is 
quite heavy, Mahar and Ick had invented an ingenious 
scheme to reduce the fatigue; they had done this so 
neatly that no one knew the difference. The knap- 
sacks stood out firm and plump as if they contained all 
the articles called for. 

Their ingenuity, however, on this occasion brought 
Ick and Mahar to grief. When the order came to 
"Open knapsacks," these two worthies looked at each 
other in a guilty fashion, and I could almost see them 
grow pale as they saw the nice and orderly manner in 
which their comrades had packed their knapsacks. Ick 
and Mahar held back. "Didn't you hear the order to 
open knapsacks," said Scott, who was in command of 
the company. 

"Now, captain, you see — " Mahar began to say; but 
he was interrupted by the captain : 

"Open your knapsacks, I said." ' " d 

"Mister Scott," put in Ick, who always had a funny 
way of addressing the officer p.3 "mister,*' "please 
oxcuse me. I don't vaxit to opens mine knapsack any 
juore alretty this time, You gee it yas— ■*»'* .., . _.,.,, , 


"Open those knapsacks!" roared the captain, getting 

The two men sheepishly proceeded to open the knap- 
sacks, and then the entire company saw why they hesi- 
tated. Both were stuffed with straw! 

The straight line that Company K had been main- 
taining was immediately broken up, for every man was 
nearly bent double with laughter. Captain Scott looked 
as if he would like to annihilate the two men on the 
spot, for it was a reflection on him. According to the 
rules he should have held a little inspection of the com- 
pany himself before coming out on the field, to see that 
everything was all right, but this he had of course 
failed to do. 

To make it all the worse, just at this moment along 
came the inspecting officer and his staff. That terrible 
autocrat seemed to take the whole thing as a personal 
insult and fairly roared. But even his roaring could 
not stop the laughter among the other members of Com- 
pany K. 

Poor Ick and Mahar rather got the worst of that 
scheme. They were sent to the guard house, and after 
the inspection were put through their punishment. The 
penalty prescribed by Captain Scott was appropriate. 

For four solid and tedious hours John Ick and Reddy 
Mahar marched up and down the company street carry- 
ing knapsacks filled with stones. When they got 
through with the ordeal they were nearly dead with 
fatigue, and the straps holding up the heavy load had 
cut through the flesh of their shoulders seemingly 
almost to the bone. 





"Iaji always suspicious of those inspections," said 
Joan Btansfield to me, after the conclusion of the par- 
ticular ono described in the foregoing chapter. 

"Why, John?" I asked. 

"Because they are not held for nothing. They mean 
that there is something coming off pretty soon. These 
things are to see that the army is in good order and 
ready for a move of some sort. Do you remember what 
that Hoosier said just before wo left Maryland 

"Yes," I replied. "But that did not amount to 
much after all. There was no fighting after that re- 
view. We were only given a little march. ' ' 

"I don't exactly mean that we will get into a fight," 
answered Stansfield ; "but there'll be something — either 
a march or a light before long." 

It really seemed as if Stansfield was right. There 
was generally some sort of a movement after a review 
or an inspection of more than ordinary formality, so that 
the soldiers had begun to regard the sign as unfailing. 
Every old soldier regarded these things as the first steps 
toward some important change or movement. But so 
far as this particular affair was concerned the rule did 
not hold good, inasmuch as we remained in the vicinity 
of Sharpsburg for some little time after that. This oc- 
casion, however, was unquestionably an exception to 
the general rule. 

The rigors of army life and exposure, together with 
the approach of cold weather, began to play havoc with 
the soldiers of the Thirteenth New Jersey. A great 
many of them were taken sick, and the temporary hos- 
pital that had been improvised was full. Nearly two 


hundred were sick, and six of these cases resulted 
fatally. The hospital was an old two-story frame 
building about a mile from our camp, and about as 
comfortable as the pest house on the almshouse farm. 

Although there were a number of the members of 
Company K on the sick list, yet there were no deaths 
among them. So far as I was concerned, my health 
was splendid. 

While we were at Sharpsburg there were also a good 
many promotions and other changes among the officers. 
George M. Hard, a Newarker — now president of one of 
the leading national banks of New York City — was 
transferred to the position of first lieutenant of Com- 
pany K. This made some grumbling, for the men 
argued that if there were any offices to fill the vacancies 
should be filled from among our own members. But 
Hard proved a good officer, and the grumbling did not 
last long. Furthermore he was soon afterward trans- 
ferred to another company. 

It is unnecessary in this story to refer to all the 
changes, but I will mention one case — that of Lieuten- 
ant Ambrose M. Matthews, who was promoted to the 
captaincy of Company I, a position he held to the end 
of the war, although he was entitled to a much higher 
position, for a better man never lived. 

He is now a prosperous business man of Orange, 1ST. 
J., and is fortunatelj 7, so situated in life that he can 
devote a good deal of time to the interests of the veteran 
soldiers, and there is no man on the face of the earth 
who takes a livelier interest in these matters than he 
does. He was an excellent officer and is to-day one of 
the most esteemed citizens of Orange, holding many posi- 
tions of trust and honor in the commercial world of that 

It was getting very cold, for it was now November, 
and really the temperature in that part of Maryland is 
not much warmer than it is here. Every morning the 
ground was covered with a thick white frost, and when 
the company was called out for the reveille roll call, the 
breath came from the men's mouths like a jet of steam. 
We suffered considerably in consequence. 

For a little while we were — that is a portion of Com- 


pany K — quartered in an old school building on the 
main street of Sharpsburg. Out of curiosity I "visited 
the same building a year or so ago. But we were glad 
not to stay there long, for it had been previously oc- 
cupied by some of General Fitz-John Porter's troops, 
and the place was so infested with "pe?idi cuius investi- 
menti," that it was more than an offset for the protec- 
tion the building afforded against the cold. 

Somewhere about the middle of November the regi- 
ment was divided into two wings, and located a couple 
of miles or so apart to facilitate the work we were en- 
gaged in — picket duty. Lieutenant-Colonel Swords 
was in command of one of these wings and Major 
Chadwick of the other. The colonel moved his head- 
quarters to a point about halfway between the two 

Then the story got out that we were going to remain 
there all winter and we proceeded to make ourselves 
more comfortable. Some of the officers even sent for 
their wives and friends to come and visit them. My 
pard, John Butterworth, and I proceeded to build a log 

An army log house is worth a brief description. 
These houses were generally "built for two." In size 
they would perhaps not be larger than twelve feet long 
and about eight feet wide. 

First of all, we dug a square hole, something like a 
cellar, the size of the cabin. Butterworth called it "the 
basement." That saved just so much timber, you 
know. Then we cut down some trees, which were split 
in half and cut the length and width of the house. 
These were notched near the ends, and then piled up 
after the manner of a "corncob house," such as the chil- 
dren used to make. 

With considerable labor water was brought from the 
nearest stream and a sufficient quantity of mud made to 
fill up the chinks between the logs. The roof was com- 
posed of the pieces of our "pup" tents fastened together, 
and stretched over a ridge pole. 

Then came the building of the chimney, the most im- 
portant part. In one end of the "cellar" a hole was 
dug, like an oven, with a small round hole at the top, 


opening into the ground above. Above this was laid a 
lot of split sticks, two or three feet each in length, and 
covered with the peculiar red mud with which that part 
of this glorious country abounds. 

Great care had to be taken to leave none of the sticks 
exposed, or the chimney would take fire. It was a very 
frequent occurrence to be awakened in the night by a 
small conflagration and destruction of the domicile of 
some comrade from this cause. I have gone through 
the interesting experience myself more than once, not- 
withstanding the fact that Butterworth was almost prof- 
ligate in his use of mud. 

The mud chimney would soon dry, and when com- 
pleted it filled its purpose to perfection. Few of the 
most scientific chimneys of the present day would 
"draw" better than those stick-and-mud affairs that we 
had in the army. 

On the other end of the hut was built the bunk. This 
was composed of poles about six or seven feet long, 
fastened across, and on top of these was laid a lot of 
evergreen or cedar boughs, which formed the mattress. 
The boughs were covered with a rubber blanket, and 
the result was a good bed that was a good deal more 
comfortable than would be imagined on reading this 

A spare blanket or piece of shelter tent served the pur- 
pose of a door, and thus housed the soldier was quite 
comfortable, with a big fire burning in the "fireplace" 
even in the severest weather. Many a pleasant hour I 
have spent in such a primitive residence, cooking lob- 
scouse or playing old sledge. 

We began to receive our mail quite regularly too, 
and this was a source of great satisfaction and pleasure. 
The home papers came to me about a week after being 
printed and with more or less regularity — generally 
more less than more. The local news, such as there 
was, interested us greatly. 

I say "such as there was" with all that it means. 
To tell the truth, there was not a great deal in the papers 
in those days beside war ne^^•s. And wo learned a 
good deal more about the war from these papers than 
we did otherwise. Even the very acts that we had par- 


ticipated in were presented to us plainer hj the papers 
than we could see them for ourselves. 

Many a movement that we could not understand sim- 
ply because we were a part of it, was explained by the 
ubiquitous war correspondent. But the funniest part 
of all was the editorial columns. These were mainly 
devoted to telling how the war ought to be prosecuted. 
None of the generals were doing right. If they would 
do this or that it would be a good deal better than the 
way they were doing. I refer to no particular paper. 
All that reached us were about the same. We soon 
came to the conclusion that the government had made 
a big mistake aud put the army in charge of the wrong 
men. Instead of the generals in command there seemed 
to be little doubt that the war might have been ended 
in half the time if the whole business had been placed 
in charge of the editorial and other critics at home. 

We also received many interesting letters from home. 
It was while at Sharpsburg that I heard for the second 
time from "The girl I left behind me." 

With one exception it was the last one I received 
from that source. The next one was not so interesting. 
To while away the time I had written a letter to Mabel 
Summers, the pretty little Frederick city girl. At the 
same time I wrote one to my Paterson girl. 

The letter to the Frederick girl never brought an 
answer. She must have thought the writer crazy. The 
letter from the Paterson girl was a curt and dignified 
demand for the return of her picture. It was not till 
after the war was over and she had cast her lot with 
another and better looking man that I understood the 
reason for such a summary dismissal. 

In directing those two letters, written at the same 
time, I had got them mixed up! 

I can imagine the indignation and feelings of my 
Paterson girl, now that I know the reason she answered 
as she did, after having read the letter to the Frederick 
city girl, but I can't imagine how the latter received 
the letter that she got. And on such a brief acquaint- 
ance, too! 




But we didn't stay at Sharpsburg all winter, as we 
expected, after all. On the 10th of December, a bit- 
terly cold day it was too, we were ordered to break 
camp. And from the rumors prevalent, notwithstand- 
ing the unusual time of the year, we were likely to get 
into another fight soon. 

Some great changes had taken place during the past 
few days, of which we heard pretty soon. For some 
reason known best to the government at Washington, 
General McClellan had been relieved from the com- 
mand of the Army of the Potomac, and General Burn- 
side had been appointed in his place. 

It should be understood, that, whereas the general in 
command in the field was popularly supposed to have 
charge of the operations, all the movements were 
directed from Washington, and these were mainly 
formulated by General Halleck. He, under the advice 
and direction of the president, was supposed to have 
command of all the armies in the field. The president 
had his hands full about that time, and of course he had 
to be invariably guided by the experience of General 

The soldiers always referred to Halleck as "Grand- 
mother Halleck," and the name in my opinion was well 
placed. He was the greatest fogy imaginable. The 
records of the departments, the histories of the war, and 
the State papers of Abraham Lincoln, all of which I 
have carefully studied, go to show that Halleck did 
more to prolong the war in the first part of its existence 
than anything else. It was not till General Grant was 
given command that the ostensible commanding general 
of the army really had that control of it that he should. 


Grant would take command under no other circum- 
stances, and he was right. 

The idea that a general in Washington could better 
direct the active movements of the army than the com- 
mander at the front in the presence of the troops, is 
absurd on the face of it. And yet that is the theory on 
which the first part of the war was prosecuted. 

General McClellan was in this manner handicapped 
all the time he was ostensibly in command of the Army 
of the Potomac. Some writers may argue differently, 
but I am satisfied of these facts. General McClellan 
was the idol of the soldiers, and there was a very gen- 
eral feeling that he had not been fairly treated by the 
powers that be, but when he was relieved there was not 
so much of a commotion as there might have been. The 
feeling among the soldiers and many of the officers was : 
"Well, let them see if some other general can do any 
better than our Little Mack." 

At the same time every soldier in the army had the 
most profound respect for General Burnside. He had 
been a corps commander and everybody knew that he 
was a good and fearless officer. The modest manner in 
which he accepted the command of the army was also 
calculated to create a favorable impression. He said 
that he would take the command and do the best he 
could, but at the same time he did not consider himself 
qualified to command such a large body and carry them 
successf ull through an important campaign. The boys 
heard of this and manifested a disposition to stand by 
him every time. 

General Burnside's very first move, however, ran 
against the political generals and others who were run- 
ning the thing at Washington. Burnside proceeded to 
make some changes and transfers among the corps com- 
manders, somewhat after the plan adopted by the late 
Superintendent B} T rnes when he gave the precinct cap- 
tains a "shaking up" in New York City. 

The approval or disapproval of the powers that be was 
deferred till after the conclusion of the Fredericksburg 
campaigns, which were then in progress. Then when 
Burnside insisted on having his ideas carried out or 
being relieved from the command of the army, the in- 


fluences brought to bear were too strong, and General 
Burnside was "relieved at his own request." 

This is anticipating the story somewhat, but it is 
stated here to explain the state of mind and other adverse 
circumstances that prevailed during the brief time that 
General Burnside was in command of the Army of the 

The order which we received to march away from 
Sharpsburg was the beginning of the movements con- 
nected with the inauguration of the Fredericksburg 
campaign. General Burnside had taken a position with 
the main portion of the army at Falmouth, nearly op- 
posite Fredericksburg, and on the day that the Thir- 
teenth left Sharpsburg, the 10th of December, the Union 
forces were practically in a position to assault the lines 
of the rebels. 

We were marched back to Harper's Ferry, and on 
the following day were in camp at Loudon Heights. 
The next day we started again and marched through 
the city or town of Leesburg. And before describing 
further progress, I want to tell something very sensa- 
tional that happened at Leesburg. 

Before that, however, I will explain that on the same 
day, or about the same time, the battle of Fredericks- 
burg, one of the sharpest and bloodiest battles of the 
war, was fought. The Thirteenth, nor any part of the 
Twelfth Corps, did not get into that battle, but we were 
supposed to form a part of the movement somehow, in 
occupying a position that would cut off one possible line 
of retreat. At least that was the explanation given. 
The why and wherefore I cannot attempt to explain. 
I was only a private soldier then, and knew no more 
than the other private soldiers, perhaps not as much as 
some of them. 

The battle of Fredericksburg was a peculiar one. 
Fredericksburg is a town on the southern side of the 
Rappahannock River, located on a hill. On the north- 
ern side of the river was the little village of Falmouth. 
The Union troops were on the Falmouth side while the 
rebels occupied the city of Fredericksburg, and were 
strongly intrenched behind breastworks. The enemy 
had destroyed all the bridges, and the only way to get 
across the river was on pontoon bridges. 


The Union troops got across. They assaulted the 
town. They destroyed it, burned the houses and 
smashed the furniture, but — were driven back in con- 
fusion, as might naturally be expected under such cir- 
cumstances. Result — nothing gained, much lost. The 
army that fell back across the river to Falmouth was 
12,321 less in number than the army that went over the 
river. And the rebel loss was less than 5,300. 

Burnside was right in the estimation he had placed 
upon himself. The soldiers liked him, and he was a 
good corps commander, but he was never intended to 
have command of a large army. At the same time, 
after this disastrous result he was left in command, al- 
though still handicapped by the powers at Washington 
in the refusal to make the changes he had recom- 
mended. Perhaps the powers at Washington might 
have been right in this particular instance. 

I am getting a little "twisted" right here in trying 
to describe the movements of the two divisions of the 
army at the same time. I will return to the Thirteenth 
New Jersej T once more. And this brings me back to 
what I was going to tell of what happened at Leesburg. 

There had been a number of desertions from all the 
regiments at Sharpsburg. The cold weather had damp- 
ened the ardor of the troops. The position of the army 
was such that it made it a comparatively easy matter 
to get away from it. A good many took advantage of 
this opportunity. 

I am sorry to say that there were some members of 
the Thirteenth New Jersey amoug the deserters. Some 
of these were recaptured and brought back by the pro- 
vost guard. Others were never heard of till after the 

Of those brought back, the most were punished in 
different ways. First it was by fining them several 
months' pay. Then it was by imprisonment in some 
military prison or fortress. But these penalties did not 
seem to have the desired effect. It was decided to make 
a horrible example of some of the deserters in order 
that it might possibly have a deterrent effect on the 
others who might be overcome with an overwhelming 
degree of homesickness. 



A squad of deserters were captured, brought back, 
court martiaJed, and sentenced to be shot ! 

Now President Lincoln was the kindest hearted of 
men. There is no telling how many men he pardoned 
during the war after they had been sentenced to be shot 
for desertion. But advantage had apparently been 
taken of this leniency, and the time had come when the 
recalcitrant soldiers should be made to believe that the 
government meant business. Executive clemency was 
therefore withheld in the case of three of the deserters 
from our corps, and we were startled with the notifica- 
tion to fall in to witness the execution ! 

The entire division was marched out to witness the 
terrible scene of three comrades being shot to death by 
their associates. I don't believe there was a face in the 
division that was not pale, nor a pair of legs that were 
not more or less shaking at the knees. 

The details of the execution will be given in the next 




Three deserters were to be shot that morning and we 
were compelled to witness the execution ! 

Fain would we all have escaped the ordeal,, but it was 
impossible. No oue was excused. Every soldier must 
have indelibly impressed upon his memory that it is a 
heinous offense to desert. Every soldier must be made 
to understand that this was hereafter to be the fate of 

None who took part will ever forget that day. So 
far as the preliminary sensations and emotions were 
concerned it was a thousand times worse than any bat- 
tle. The men were subdued and silent as if going to a 
funeral — and indeed they were. Poor John Ick's lugu- 
brious expressions about a ."slaughter house" met a 
response in all our minds, for like nothing else than a 
slaughter house did it appear to us. 

It seemed as if the orderly sergeant was more quiet 
than usual in forming the company, and the tone of the 
captain as he ordered the company to march to the 
parade ground was low and sorrowful. When the regi- 
ment was formed there was an unusual lack of bustle 
and enthusiasm. A spirit of sadness, I might say of 
horror, pervaded the entire command. 

It was a beautiful day. There was not a cloud in 
the sky and the sun shone down on the glittering baj'o- 
nets till R they looked like silver spikes. The men all 
wore sober countenances as we marched out to the place 
of execution. 

There were three men to be shot. Two were from 
the Forty-sixth Pennsylvania, and the other, I regret to 
say, from the Thirteenth New Jersey. The latter was 
named Christopher Krubart, a member of Company B. 


These three men were to be killed ! 

And we were to kill them ! 

Fortunately for me and fortunately for the victims I 
was not one of the men detailed on the shooting squad. 
It was fortunate for me, because I would as like as 
not have shot myself in my excitement. It was fortu- 
nate for the victim, for I would probably have hit him, 
if I hit him at all, in some unimportant part of the body 
and only help to put him in agony, without killing him. 

Before we started for the scene of the execution the 
order announcing the findings of the court martial and 
the approval of the sentence was read impressively to 
the regiment. That this had a moral effect on the men 
is beyond question. No one could describe the solem- 
nity of that event, made all the more solemn from the 
impressive manner in which the order was read by 
Adjutant Hopkins. 

At 13 o'clock precisely the different regiments of 
the brigade and division were marched out to the place 
selected for the execution and formed into a "hollow 
square." The officers gave their orders m subdued 
voices, and the men obeyed with impressive silence, as 
the rifles were dropped to the ground on the order to 
' ' shou lder arms. ' ' 

Straight before us we could see the three graves that 
had been dug and into which vere soon to be consigned 
the dead and mutilated bodies of three fellow beings 
who at that moment were as alive and full of heallh 
and vigor as we were. It seemed as if there was an 
unnecessary delay in the proceedings. Everything 
seemed to be done with painful deliberation. This was 
perhaps to lend additional impressiveness to the scene. 

There was no use for that. The scene was sufficiently 
impressive as it was. 

Then, moving so slowly that they scarcely moved, 
came in the wagons containing the three coffins which 
were soon to contain the bodies of the unfortunates. 
Behind the coffins came an ambulance surrounded by 
armed soldiers. 

In the ambulance, securely manacled, were the three 
doomed victims of the tragedy. They were slowly, 
almost tenderly, assisted from the ambulance, and led 
to the coffins. 


There was a coffin at the head of each of the three 
graves and the men were seated on the end of the coffins. 
Each man sat on the coffin he was to occupy ! 

Their eyes were blindfolded, their hands fastened to 
their backs, and their legs tied together. They could 
neither move nor see. 

The firing party consisted of thirty-six men in all. 
Eight men were detailed to shoot each deserter, making 
twenty-four to fire at the first order, and the other 
twelve v/ere held back in reserve, to finish the horrible 
work in case there was any sign of life after the first 

Not a man of that detail knew whether his gun was 
loaded. This was a merciful provision for such cases. 
In each squad there was one rifle loaded with only a blank 
cartridge. In firing a musket, one cannot tell whether 
there is a bullet in the cartridge or not. If the guns 
were all loaded every man would have it on his mind 
that he had shot a fellow being. With one blank in 
the squad no man knew for sure whether his gun had 
fired a fatal shot or not. 

This left an uncertainty about it that was very con- 
soling. Every man consoled himself with the idea that 
he had the blank cartridge. The guns had been loaded 
by the officers at the division headquarters and only one 
or two officers knew which of the rifles were really 
loaded. Even they did not know long, for the guns 
were mixed up indiscriminately in a pile, from which 
each member of the firing squad picked a rifle as he 
was marched past. 

The firing squad marched to the place of execution 
with slow and measured tread, which served to still 
longer prolong the painful scene and add to the already 
almost unbearable impressiveness and awfulness of the 

Then the death sentence was read again, in a solemn 
manner. Every face in the ranks was pale, and many 
of the men were trembling. In fact some of their knees 
were shaking so that they could hardly stand on their 
feet. I plead guilty to being one of this class. 

At the same time everybody was curious enough to 
watch the condemned men. The handkerchiefs tied 
over their eyes obscured the upper parts, but the lower 


portions could be seen. They were ghastly — not white, 
but ashen and sickly in pallor. 

From the furthermost parts of the "square" the men 
could see the unfortunate and terrified victims trem- 
bling. One of them was actually shivering, as if he 
had a severe chill. The lips of two could be seen to 
move slightly, as if in prayer. There is little doubt 
that it was really a prayer. 

But not one of them undertook to speak a word aloud. 
They had all evidently made up their minds to die with- 
out a flinch, without a murmur or protest. 

Such bravery and fortitude as this, displayed on the 
battlefield, would have won them a pair of shoulder 
straps. As it was, it was the ineffable disgrace of being 
shot as a deserter ! 

Chaplain Beck, of the Thirteenth Regiment, offered 
a short prayer for the salvation of the souls of the un- 
fortunate men, and their lips seemed to move in response 
to every syllable of the supplication. Glancing around 
furtively among my companions, I noticed tears trick- 
ling down many a bronzed and weatherbeaten face. 

The time has arrived ! 

The firing squad were placed in position, only a few 
feet in front of the condemned men — eight men to each 
deserter. There was a look of determination on the 
faces of the firing party, and yet they were all very 
pale. They all stood at a "shoulder arms." 

It is usual in giving the order to shoot, to say, suc- 
cessively, "Ready! Aim! Fire!" But in this in- 
stance a somewhat original innovation had been made 
to the usual rule. One of the words was omitted. 
This was a merciful surprise, both to the condemned 
men and the soldiers who were compelled to witness the 
execution. The officer in command of the firing party 
and the members of the latter themselves were the only 
ones who had been informed of the change in the order. 
Consequently it came upon us as a big surprise, I might 
perhaps better say, a big shock. 


So commanded the officer of the firing party. Every 
nerve stretched to its utmost tension as the men in front 
of the condemned wretches brought their pieces up to 


their hips, the hammer at the same time being raised 
with the right hand. 

I felt like shutting my eyes to escape seeing what 
was coming next, but a horrible fascination glued my 
gaze intensely to the scene. And I knew of course 
there was another command, "aim," before the shots 
were finally fired. 

But no! With a quick, sharp command that gave us 
all a start, which came so unexpectedly that even the 
condemned deserters probably did not fully comprehend 
it, came the order : 


Like lightning twenty-four cocked muskets jumped 
up to twenty-four shoulders. The movement was made 
with marvelous rapidity. Before we could fully com- 
prehend what had happened, there was a puff of smoke 
and the three deserters fell over backward on their 
coffins, or rather I should say, almost into them. 

We saw the smoke from the guns before hearing the 
report, of course. It is alwaj^s that way. The noise of 
the report was heard simultaneously with the sight of 
the dead deserters falling backward. 

As the doomed men fell over they seemed to stiffen 
out convulsively, so that they did not go over bent in 
the sitting posture, but as if they had been standing up, 
and had fallen back like three felled trees. From the 
distance where I stood I could discern no signs of a 
struggle or even a convulsive tremor. Those who were 
close by failed to see even the twitch of a muscle. 

Their deaths must have been instantaneous. It is 
doubtful if they even heard the reports of the rifles that 
shot them, for at that distance the speed of a bullet is 
greater than that of sound. 

The effect of the tragedy on the silent witnesses was 
peculiar. Judging from my own sensations, it was one 
of intense relief that it was all over. The solemn and 
impressive preliminary preparations were emphatically 
the worst part of the whole transaction. As if a great 
weight had been lifted the sensation was one rather of 
exhilaration than of depression, for the time being. 

But this was not permitted to last long. ' We still 
bad another ordeal to pass through, perhaps still worse 
than anything that had preceded it. 


We were marched slowly around and past the bloody 
bodies of the three executed deserters and compelled to 
gaze upon them as we went by. This was a shuddering 
ordeal, and all the more tended to impress the lesson the 
event had been intended to convey. 

The marksmen had performed their duties well. 
Each one had aimed at a bit of paper pinned over the 
condemned men's hearts. It will be remembered that 
seven only out of each eight rifles were loaded with 
bullets. When we examined the body of Krubart, the 
Thirteenth Regiment deserter, it was found that the 
whole seven bullets had passed through his body in the 
immediate vicinity of his heart. Any one of them 
would have caused instant death. 

The results in the cases of the others were the same. 
There was no need for the services of the reserves on 
this occasion. 

The bodies were buried like those of dogs. Not a 
word of burial service was said over them. The bodies 
were hurried into the coffins while yet warm, the coffins 
were lowered into the graves, and in a few moments the 
ground was leveled over them. 

No head board or other marker was placed over the 
grave of an executed deserter. He merely became a 
part and parcel of mother earth, and the precise where- 
abouts of his remains were never known afterward. 

We marched back to the spot where we were to camp 
for the night without much talk, but everybody was 
doing a good deal of thinking. What was everybody 
thinking about? I think the answer can be best 
given in the laconic remark of the ever-ready John Ick : 

"By jimminey, poys," said he, "des settles it. 
Ven you sees Yon Ick deserting some more alretty, he 
stays py de regiment all de times." 




It must be admitted that the lesson had a salutary 
effect. There was not much deserting after the execu- 
tion of the three men at Leesburg, and there had been 
a good deal before that time. It seemed hard to sacri- 
fice even three lives for such a purpose, but it had be- 
come necessary, and it practically put a stop to the 
practice for a considerable time. 

We resumed our tiresome march. Where we were 
going we did not know. It was nothing but getting up 
early in the morning, marching and halting all day 
long, and passing tired nights around sickly fires, half- 

For the weather was getting cold now. This was 
adding another hardship to the boys' long list of 
troubles. During the daytime when we were on the 
move it was possible to keep comfortable. It was even 
uncomfortably warm in the middle of the day. But the 
nights were very cold. 

Although the blankets and shelter tents and overcoats 
were just as heavy as ever, yet we stuck to them now, 
because they were absolutely necessary for comfort at 
night. I use the word "comfort" with some mental 
reservation, for I cannot say we were exactly comforta- 
ble at all during the night. 

Some one suggested that the Indians slept with their 
feet to the fires and that if the feet were kept warm the 
rest of the body would be comfortable. There was a 
good deal in this, as we found out from experience, but 
at the same time it was not sufficient. The more ordi- 
nary practice was to sleep with one side turned toward 
the fires for a while, and then turn the other side, and so 
on. This alternate series of freezing and roasting be- 


came the universal rule, and as the boys were generally- 
crowded so closely together that they had to lie spoon 
fashion, it became a sort of a drill. When one turned 
over, the other had to. 

There are some men who are born to command, 
whether they hold rank or not. This soon became mani- 
fest in this "change side" order. By tacit consent, 
some one particular individual gave the word and it 
was obeyed. No attention was given to it if the sug- 
gestion came from any other source. This was a singu- 
lar thing, but a fact. Some one soldier, regardless of 
rank, would always be accepted as the leader and com- 
mander of these petty duties, not in the strict line of 
military service. 

Several times we had to ford creeks that were quite 
deep. This was not so bad when the weather was mild, 
but when it was cold it added suffering as well as dis- 
comfort. Then there was apparently a good deal of 
unnecessary marching. We would go for a distance 
along some road, and then turn and go another way, 
as if the leaders had lost their route. This made a good 
deal of grumbling. 

We passed through Chantilly, which had once before 
been the scene of a battle, and through several other 
places that were big enough to be honored with a name 
and that is about all. Finally, about the 25th of De- 
cember, we reached the Occoquan creek at a place called 
Wolf Run Shoals. 

Here we had an experience worth describing. 

During the night a tremendous storm arose. It was 
one of the worst I ever remember. 

I plainly recall my own experience that night. John 
Butterworth (my pard) and myself had pitched our 
little "pup" tent on the side of a hill at the bottom of 
which was a good-sized creek or brook. 

It was in a piece of woods that had evidently not 
been occupied by troops before, for the trees were stand- 
ing, and the ground was covered with dry twigs and 
leaves. The skies were overcast and the air was damp 
and chilly, but we did not think that there was going 
to be a very big storm. 

"I tell you, Joe," said Butterworth, "we're lucky to 


get this good place to-night. See the leaves I have 
gathered for a bed. It beats a spring mattress. There's 
many a poor fellow at home that hasn't such a good 
place to sleep in as this." 

"Yes," I replied, pulling the blanket up under my 
chin, "and this slope of the ground is just right. It 
brings our heads higher than our feet, which makes it 
more comfortable. I'm glad I didn't throw away my 
blanket in to-day's tramp, aren't you?" 

"You bet I don't throw away mine while the cold 
weather remains," said Butterworth. "It is pretty 
tough sometimes during the day, but they come in 
mighty handy at night, I can tell you." 

"Don't you think it is going to rain to-night?" I 

"Wouldn't be surprised," replied John. "But then 
what do we care? We have a good tent, plenty of 
blankets, a soft bed, and even a canteen full of spring 
water, for I filled the canteen fresh just before I turned 

"Where is the canteen?" I asked. "I want to get a 
drink now." 

"Hanging right over your head," said he, "on the 
tent pole." 

I took a good drink of the refreshing draft, and John 
was right, for it was as fine a specimen of spring water 
as I ever tasted. 

We talked a little while on commonplace subjects and 
soon fell soundly to sleep. Soldiers were too tired out 
on such occasions to indulge in much talking after they 
were in bed, and when they once got asleep they slept 
soundly. Only those who have had that experience can 
fully appreciate the soundness of the sleep of a tired 

I was awakened during the night some time by the 
sound of the ram falling in torrents. The wind blew a 
gale and fairly howled through the branches of the trees 
over our heads. I felt uncomfortably chilly, and turn- 
ing over to find what was the matter, found the blankets 
both under and over me soaking wet. 

"What's the matter now, Joe?" asked Butterworth, 
waking up. 


"I guess that confounded old canteen of yours has 
sprung a leak," said I, "for the blankets are all wet." 

We made an examination and found the canteen all 
right, but as we sat up, there was a very uncomfortable 
sensation of water trickling down our backs. 

"Phew!" said Butterworth, "here's a pretty mess. 
The tent has sprung a leak. The blankets are soaked 
and so am I. I am wet through." 

"You're no wetter than I am, I guess," I replied. 
"Let's get up and see what is the matter." 

We pulled the blankets from the ground and found a 
stream of water running through the tent. It was run- 
ning through by the pailful. It will be remembered 
that we were in such a "nice place" on the side of the 
hill, and the water was running down through the tent 
like a brook. 

We got outside. It was better to be standing out in 
the rain than it was to be lying there in a brook. We 
found the entire regiment up and standing under the 
trees, each man wrapped in his rubber blanket, to pro- 
tect himself as well as he might from the pelting rain- 

A more forlorn and unhappy lot of men it would be 
hard to conceive. There we were, in the middle of the 
night, in a desolate woods, with the rain falling in per- 
fect torrents. And how it did rain ! It came down by 
the bucketful ! 

"I haf change my mind alretty," said John Ick. "I 
beliof I will desert alretty, so soon by I got chances." 

"What's the matter now, John?" I asked. 

"Dot's vot I said alretty," he answered. "Dose fel- 
lers vat vas deserted was died und don'd haf to go 
through by dot rain-storm all the times. Dey vash 
happy, und ve vas " 

"That's true, John," I said. "They are dead and 
maybe they are happy. I can't tell about that. And 
we are not very happy. There's no denying that. But 
at the same time wouldn't you rather be a live soldier 
than a dead soldier? And maybe perhaps those dead 
fellows are not happy after all. Maybe they went to 
the other place, where the people are not so happy, ac- 
cording to general belief." 


"I don'd care, neider," said John. "Dose fellers vas 
warm if dey goes by dot under places vat you says 
don'd was so happy be. Dey vas warm and dry und ve 
vas wet und cold alretty. Ya, I wish I vas dead all 
the times. I change my minds. I vas goin' to desert 
so soon by the storm vas over." 

There was no getting over this argument. The exe- 
cuted deserters might be in purgatory, as Ick said, but 
if they were, it was a good dry place. And a dry place, 
in our present frame of mind, comprised all the essential 
elements of complete happiness. 

But John didn't desert, then or afterward. He was, 
as a rule, a good soldier, despite all his talk. 

We tried many times to light a fire, but were unable 
to do so Everything was so water-soaked that nothing 
would burn. We passed through a miserable night, 
and when it came daylight, although the storm let up a 
little, we were a miserable lot, soaked to the skin, shiv- 
ering, uncomfortable and hungry, for it was even im- 
possible to get enough o f a fire to boil coffee for break- 

But, sleep or no sleep, wet or dry, hungry or sur- 
feited, the ^operations of the army must proceed. The 
relentless march must go on. Whatever spot we were 
aiming for must be reached. 

And so, wet and tired, hungry, listless, depressed and 
enervated, we mechanically obeyed the order to — 

"Fall in, Thirteenth!" 




But we didn't march very far that day. When night 
came again we were not more than two miles from 
where we started in the morning. 

And now for the first time we encountered what was 
a genuine specimen of "Virginia mud." We thought 
we had seen Virginia mud before, but all previous ex- 
periences were a farce in comparison. 

The storm had cleared off. That is, the rain had 
stopped falling, although the skies were still overcast. 
It was but a short distance from where we had camped 
for the night to the ford at Wolf Run Shoals, over the 
Occoquan creek. 

It was called a ford, because in ordinary seasons the 
water is only a foot or so deep, and the place was used 
for a crossing for wagons. The economical Virginia 
grangers never wasted county appropriations in build- 
ing bridges when they could find a place shallow enough 
to wade across. And they would go miles out of their 
way to reach the ford. 

The spot was called Wolf Run on account of a tradi- 
tion that in former days it used to be a favorite haunt 
for the wild ancestors of the domestic dog. But we 
saw no wolves. Neither did we see any ford. 

On the contrary we encountered a raging creek. 
Usually it was but a foot or so deep. Now it was sev- 
eral feet deep, and the water was rushing through with 
the speed of a tail race. 

The mounted officers rode across, although the water 
was high enough to have wet their feet if they had not 
held them up. But the main portion of the vast army 
was not mounted. It was not a big enough stream to 
use pontoon bridges, and there was not time to construct 


c regular 'army truss bridge, for we were in a hurry. 
It was a part of the movement somehow or other con- 
nected with the Fredericksburg campaign. 

As things turned out it would have saved time for 
the officers to have stopped the entire army for a day or 
so and built substantial bridges. But then everybody's 
foresight isn't as good as his hindsight, not even an 
army officer's. 

There were plenty of large trees growing along the 
edge of the creek and some bright genius suggested that 
these trees be felled in such a way as to fall across the 
stream and let the troops go over these logs. 

I was not a general. I was not even a commissioned 
officer. I was "only a private." 

But if even with my ignorance I could not have de- 
vised something better than that I think I would have 
been ashamed of myself. The idea of marching an 
army of several thousand soldiers across a log over a 
stream of water, and in a hurry at that, was simply 

And yet that is just what was attempted. I forget 
how many of these primitive bridges were thrown 
across the creek. Perhaps eight or ten. They were 
big trees, eighteen inches or two feet in diameter. 

I saw the first two or three men cross. With their 
heavy rifles, their knapsacks and various accouterments, 
they had about all they could do to walk along a coun- 
try road, let alone balance themselves on something only 
a trifle better than a tight rope. It took perhaps a 
minute for a man to get over. 

The first three or four went across with comparative 
ease. Then the dripping clothes and the muddy shoes 
of the men began to besmear the round top of the logs, 
and they became perilously slippery. From that mo- 
ment it became something like a man trying to walk 
along the top of a rail fence with a pair of roller skates 
on his feet. 

About every third man slipped off into the water and 
of course that was not a very pleasant thing. As I said 
before, the stream was deep and the current was swift. 
The first two or three unfortunates were nearly 
drowned, hampered as they were with their cumber-* 


some accouterments. So, below each of the log bridges, 
they established a cordon of cavalry, to catch and fish 
out the men as they slipped off. Fully one-half the 
men consequently got on the other side drenched to the 

It was very tedious. We had to wait for an hour or 
so after reaching the stream to get a chance to cross, for 
it could only be done one by one, as may be imagined. 
And after getting to the other side we had to wait for 
the rest of our companions. I think of all the experi- 
ence I ever had in the marching line this took the 

I felt sure that I would be one of the fellows to slip 
off the log and go into the water, but I didn't. Al- 
though I slipped and scrambled and twisted myself into 
all imaginable shapes in keeping my balance, I man- 
aged to get over somehow, and took my place with those 
waiting for the others to come over. 

Then and there we indulged in the customary kick- 
ing, and the army, the war and everything connected 
with it was cursed uphill and down. If Jeff Davis had 
come around just then he would have met with a warm 
reception from a disgusted army. The loudest in their 
imprecations were of course those who had tumbled into 
the creek and were wet to the skin and shivering with 
the cold, as they tried to dry themselves by the sickly 
fires that had been kindled. 

In the meantime the wagons were coming across by 
fording. Each wagon and team naturally brought up 
out of the creek its quota of water, which dropped off 
on the banks as they emerged from the creek. This 
was a little thing at first, but wagon after wagon and 
team after team soon had the ground saturated, not only 
close by the creek, but for some distance up the side of 
the bank. 

The wheels of the heavy baggage wagons, wearing 
into this, mixed it over and over again, till the mud got 
deeper and deeper. First it was a few inches deep. 
Then it worked down till it was a foot deep. Soon it 
was up to the hubs of wheels. It did not take long to 
work the mass till it came up to the bellies of the mules 
and the bodies of the baggage wagons. 


The mud grew thinner 'and thinner till it was of the 
consistency of paste. Its color was a bright red, as 
Virginia mud usually is. Not only did it grow deeper 
and deeper, but the slough extended further and further 
until it was fully a quarter of a mile in length, if not 

It was muddy all over that part of the country at that 
particular time. In the wet season the normal constit- 
uent of the State was mud. But I am now talking of 
more than ordinary mud. The sort I am trying to de- 
scribe is the regular old army mud, such as was only 
seen by the soldiers on the march. 

It was not long before the mud was too deep for an 
ordinary six-mule team to drag the wagons through. 
Teams from other wagons would be unhitched to help 
those still in the sloughs. I have seen not only twelve, 
but frequently twenty-four, mules, attached to a bag- 
gage wagon to pull it out of a mud hole, and on the par- 
ticular day I am talking about I saw thirty-six mules 
attached to one wagon, and yet unable to budge it. 

It was in such a place as this that the mule would 
become discouraged and lay himself down and die, as I 
have described in a previous chapter. 

It was in this place and on this occasion, that origi- 
nated the following incident, which perhaps some of 
my readers have heard before : 

Out in the middle of the road, resting apparently in 
a mud puddle where it had been left, lay a brand new 
army hat of the "slouch" pattern. A soldier whose hat 
was somewhat the worse for wear caught sight of this, 
and decided to secure it. The mud was too deep for 
him to wade out for the hat and so he got a long pole 
from the woods and reached out for the hat with the 
pole, as if he were fishing. 

As he lifted the hat on the end of the pole the soldier 
was astonished to see that he had exposed a human 
head. And not only a head, but a very much alive one 
at that, with the mouth in good working order. 

"Here you," shouted the head, "what are you about 
there? Put that hat right back where you got it!" 

<l I didn't know you were there/' replied the soLUer 


■who had just fished off the hat, as he tried to wiggle 
the pole around so that it would fall back on the head. 

"I didn't know there was anything under that hat. 
Don't you want some one to help you out of the mud?" 

"N-no, I g-guess not," said the man in the mud 
nonchalantly, "I have a good horse under mo, and I 
guess he will bring me out all right after awhile 1" 




I don't know if that man's good horse ever brought 
him safely out of the mud, hut I do know that the story 
is not so much of an exaggeration as it might appear at 
first glance. No amount of extravagant description 
could greatly exaggerate the depth, diabolical character 
and general cussedness of Virginia mud. 

A soldier cannot march in boots. Experience soon 
proved that the only proper footgear was a broad, low- 
cut shoe. This was of course no protection to the mud. 
The usual custom was to pull the woolen stocking up 
on the outside of the trousers, forming a sort of legging. 
That protected the bottom of the pantaloons, and made 
marching easier. But as may be imagined the shoes 
were soon full of mud and water and one's feet were 
constantly in soak. 

In civil life it is supposed to be a dangerous thing to 
go long with wet feet, but some kind Providence must 
have inured the soldier to this. None seemed to be 
much the worse for it. Of all the ailments of life ordi- 
nary colds were the least troublesome to the soldier after 
he had become once hardened to the service. 

But that it must have had an effect on the health is 
evident from the large numbers of veterans to-day who 
are suffering from rheumatism and kindred ailments, 
all unquestionably the result of the exposure suffered 
while in the army. 

That day, with the mud and wet and the cold, was 
one of the hardest we ever experienced. In ordinary 
times we would have thought little of a twenty-mile 
march in a day, but on that particular day we did not 
make more than two miles, and when night came we 
were completely exhausted with the fatigue of the day. 


We went into camp that night within a mile of the 
crossing at Wolf Run Shoals, and not two miles from 
where we had slept the night before on the hillside, 
where the rain poured down our backs. It wasn't a 
jolly crowd that night. Everything was wet through. 
It was almost impossible to find a piece of wood dry 
enough to burn. Butter worth and I, however, man- 
aged to discover and cut down a couple of good-sized 
sassafras trees. These, no matter how wet, will burn 
like pine, although they make a terrific smoke. 

Of all the trees that grow in the woods, none will 
burn as readily when green as sassafras, a fact which 
the rising generation should remember, as it might be 
of use to them in case there is ever another war — which 
God forbid. 

Poor, clumsy John Ick was of course one of the fel- 
lows who had fallen off the slippery log into the creek 
and got wet through. This nearly led to a fatal dis- 
ruption between him and his "pard," Reddy Mahar. 

"Ye clumsy blackguard," said Reddy, "couldn't ye 
kape on ye're feet loike a sober man. How d'ye sup- 
pose Oi'me a-goin' to sleep wid ye this night?" 

"I don't care, needer," said Ick, "you can schleeps 
where you likes. You don't have some tents to schleep 
mit, under you don'd schleep by me, all the times." 

"The divil I don't. Half uf that tint is moin, and 
Oi'll roll meself up inside uf it, and no thanks to ye for 
a favor, ye spalpeen." 

"No, you don't, needer. Both pieces by dot tents vas 
mine. Don'd you remember dot you loose your tents 
de under night, Reddy?" 

"Oi didn't lose my tent at all at all, you old slaugh- 
ter house. Half uf that tint is moin and ye know it. ' ' 

"Nein. You vas mistooken, Reddy. You know you 
lose your halluf de under day, und you don'd draw 
some more from the quartermaster alretty." 

"Ye can't come that over me, ye spalpeen," answered 
Reddy, as he proceeded to seize half the "pup" tent 
from Ick. John grabbed the other end, and they began 
to pull on the two sides of the piece of canton flannel. 

The language that ensued between the two during 
the scramble that took place for the possession of that 


piece of tent was altogether unparliamentary. It was a 
funny conglomeration of Celtic and Teutonic, and beat 
any character dialect acting that was ever placed on the 
variety stage. 

You have perhaps seen the picture of the pug dog and 
the baby tugging at the two legs of the rag doll, and if 
you have you, no doubt remember the fate of the doll. 
Well, that was the fate of the piece of "pup" tent. It 
came in two and was torn to pieces in the struggle. 

Then a grab was made for the other half of the tent, 
and before long it met the same fate. That was torn to 
pieces also. 

After the mischief had been done, the two belliger- 
ents gazed upon the ruin, and then looked each other in 
the face for a moment as a curious expression came over 
their countenances. 

"John," said Reddy, whose sense of the ludicrous al- 
ways overcame his animosity on such occasions, "we're 
a pair of fools, that's phwat's we are." 

"And I vas anudder, Reddy," replied Ick. 

That settled the difficulty then and there. The two 
worthies shook hands cordially, and were extra vagantly 
profuse in offering each other the use of their blankets 
for the night. Reddy and John had no tent at all that 
night, nor for a number of nights afterward, in conse- 
quence of that disastrous quarrel, but they were closer 
friends than ever. Although Ick was wet through, and 
must have been a very uncomfortable bedfellow, they 
slept that night as close as brothers, and not a word of 
complaint was heard on either side, although they must 
have been anything but comfortable. 

This is only one of the many examples of the peculiar 
incompatibility of these strange "pards." They were 
always quarreling and there was scarcely a day that 
they did not have a fight. They did not seem to be able 
to agree upon anything. And yet, if any one abused 
one of them, the other always took it up, and behind 
the uncouth, incongruous exterior there was a depth of 
friendship that was astonishing. 

There was many another soldier that night that had 
a wet "pard," although there was not the same way 
adopted for the settlement of the matter as in the case 


of Mahar and Ick. But if there was anybody comforta- 
ble and happy in camp that night I did not hear of it. 
In the course of my war experience I do not think that 
patriotism was ever at a lower ebb than it was that 

We were glad enough when it was morning. Then 
we learned that not half the army had been got across 
the creek, and it had been decided during the night by 
the officers in command to retrace our steps and take 
some other route. 

This was one of the things that always disgusted the 
soldier — to spend a whole day getting somewhere and 
then immediately go back again. We could not under- 
stand the why and wherefore of such things of course, 
although there must have been some reason. But the 
why and wherefore was not explained to the private 

" Their's not to reason why, 
Their's but to do and die.'' 

It did not take so long to get back, for the weather 
was still colder and the mud had partially dried and 
partially frozen, so that it was not near as deep as it was 
the previous day. The water in the creek had also gone 
down so that it could be forded, and many crossed that 
way, although I stuck to the log and again managed to 
get across without tumbling off. We marched some 
distance further back that day, and before night reached 
Fairfax Station, a place where we were to remain for 
awhile, it was said, as the weather was getting too cold 
for army movements. 

And as we marched into camp that night it began to 
snow. It was a tradition that it did not snow very 
often in that part of the country ; it did that afternoon, 
and it snowed as hard as I ever saw it snow in the 

Here was another new experience. We had suffered 
from the intense heat of the sun and we had gone 
through some pretty cold nights already We had been 
drenched to the skin in the rain and half -drowned from 
fording creeks. But this was the first time we had ever 
encountered a snowstorm. 


Although it might not be thought to be a fact, yet it 
is not nearly as cold to be outdoors in an ordinary snow 
storm as when it is a clear cold. The principal incon- 
venience was in the fact that the snow covered up the 
twigs and little sticks in the woods which were so use- 
ful in kindling and maintaining fires in camp. 

But the ever willing Butterworth, "my pard,'' 
hustled through under the trees, pushing the snow from 
the ground with his feet, and gathered a big armful of 
small branches and brushes while I went to the nearest 
stream and filled the canteens. We put up the *pup' ' 
tent and had everything fixed nicely for the night, and 
were preparing to cook some lobscouse for supper, when 
to my intense disgust I heard my named called to go on 

So, donning my haversack and equipments, and de- 
ferring my supper till later, I fell in line, with my com- 
panions, and started for — no soldier knows where he 
starts for I 




On the way to the picket headquarters we were cau- 
tioned to be careful, as although the main portion of the 
rebel army was some distance from that spot, yet there 
had been some evidences of guerrillas around and they 
might make a raid upon us at any moment. 

"What are guerrillas?" I imagine I hear the reader 

Guerrillas were isolated detachments of the cavalry 
of the enemy. They did not seem to be connected with 
any main branch of the Confederate army, but con- 
ducted the war on a sort of a go-as-you-please principle. 
They rode in detachments of from fifty to five hundred 

The guerrillas particularly infesting the Virginia cam- 
paign were Moseby's, Morgan's, Stuart's, and Wheel- 
er's. They were generally called "men," that is, 
"Moseby's men," "Stuart's men,'' etc. A rumor that 
any of these bushwackers were in the neighborhood 
always put the soldiers on the alert. 

The particular province of the guerrillas was to harass 
the Northern army. I suppose there were similar 
guerrillas on the Northern side, but we did not come 
across them, of course. In the Union army, if there 
were such things, they were given the more dignified 
appellation of "skirmishing parties." 

The guerrillas also perhaps made it a part of their 
business to take hasty surveys of the Union forces, posi- 
tions and strength. They would suddenly dash down 
upon our camps, generally in the night time, and gal- 
loping through the lines would cut and slash and shoot 
after the manner of a lot of Western cowboys on a 
round-up through some small, out-of-the-way settle- 


Their appearance was generally so sudden and unex- 
pected that it found the Union soldiers unprepared for 
it. They would dash through the picket lines, rush 
through the camps, and then as suddenly disappear, be- 
fore our lines could be formed to drive them off. Cav- 
alry has no chance to fight against infantry when the 
latter is once formed into a "hollow square," but that 
takes some time to form, and the guerrillas would nave 
disappeared before the boys had received the orders to 
fall in. 

There was one good thing about the guerrillas. Their 
proximity always served to make the soldiers more on 
the alert. The report that guerrillas had been seen 
around always kept the pickets and everybody else on 
the qui vive. 

Our picket post was a very lonesome spot at the edge 
of a woods. It continued to snow quite hard and the 
ground was covered to the depth of several inches. We 
managed to start a fire, however, and made ourselves 
as comfortable as possible under the circumstances. 

I was on the second relief and did not have to go on 
post till 11 o'clock. We thought it was no use trying 
to get any sleep before starting out, we fellows on the 
second relief, and consequently sat around the fire, after 
cooking some coffee, and indulged in talk. 

"Those guerrillas," said one of the Third Wisconsin 
boys to me, as we sat there smoking our pipes, "are a 
derned nuisance. I remember once before the Second 
Bull Run they made a raid through our camp and gave 
us the derndest scare you ever saw. We were a sittin* 
around the fire just like this, when all of a suddint there 
was a whoop and a hurrah, and a lot of shootin'. Then 
the guerrillas dashed through us, firing and slashing and 
yelling like Injuns. None of us was shot, but one of 
the Twenty -seventh Infantry boys got a slash on the 
arm with a saber. They was right through us afore we 
could do anything. Then they dashed down through 
camp, clear through, mind you, with their yelling and 
racket, and went out of the other side, and all so sud- 
dint that not a single one of them was shot." 

"What is the sense of it all?" I asked. "What ob- 
ject have they in making these rushes through camp?" 


"Derned if I know," replied the veteran. "Pure 
cussedness, I guess. If they find there's only a small 
force they will grab up everything they can cany. If 
there is a big army lying around they simply dash 
through. I guess it is simply to find out how many 
there are on our side and perhaps to give us a little 
scare. ' ' 

"Do they ever attack the picket posts?" I asked 
somewhat nervously. 

"Oh, yes, that's their main hold. One time down 
on die Peninsula they raided the post I was on, wound- 
ing the sergeant and one of the men, and they grabbed 
our blankets and haversacks and guns and skedaddled 
before we could say beans. Say, I'd rather go into a 
good-sized battle than be raided by guerrillas. Not that 
there is so much danger, but it gives a fellow such a 
scare, you know, and you. don't get over it for some 
time. Somenow after you have once been raided by 
guerrillas you have no confidence in yourself for a long- 
time, especially when you are out on some lonesome 
post on a dark night." 

"Do you think we are likely to have any guerrillas 
around to-night?" I asked. I was beginning to feel a 
very lively personal interest in the matter, considering 
the fact that I would have to go on post in a short 

"I wouldn't be much surprised," was the reply. "I 
heard the officers say as how guerrillas had been seen 
near by some of the skirmishers, and it kind o' looked 
as if they might be along this way afore mornin'. But 
then we will keep on the lookout for them." 

"Isn't it rather dangerous to have a fire burning like 
this, so that they can see where we are?" I asked. 

" Well, I don't think as how that makes much differ- 
ence They would come anyhow, fire or no fire. And 
say, if a fellow was going to go without a fire simply 
because there might be guerrillas around, he would 
freeze to death before the winter was over. We have 
to take chances on that." 

"But then a man is in more danger when he is out 
alone on post, isn't he?" I asked. 

"To be sure, pard," was the encouraging reply. 


"You have to keep your eyes open. But then you can 
hear the tramp of the horses long before they are near, 
unless they have the hoofs muffled, which they some- 
times do. Then you can hardly hear them till they 
are close on top of you." 

" What do you mean by having their hoofs muffled?" 
I asked wonderingly. 

"Why, they sometimes have sort o' cushions or pads 
on the feet of their horses, and they go along softly, like 
a man wearing gum shoes. They don't do this very often, 
you know, but they do sometimes, and then they make 
scarcely any noise at all. An old soldier, however, 
soon gets to know the guerrillas are coming even with 
the horses' hoofs muffled, if they only learn how and 
keep a close watch." 

"How do they do that?" I asked. I was getting in- 

"The weight of the horse as he comes down when on 
the gallop, makes a sort of thud, you see, and although 
it is little, it jars the ground just enough to feel it. 
You hear them through your feet. If you suspect that 
there is something of the sort going on, just plant your- 
self solid on the ground, both heels down. Don't raise 
on your toes, but put your whole weight on your heels. 
Then the sound of the cavalry a-comin' will go up 
through your legs." 

"It's just the same if they are galloping toward you 
through the mud or over soft ground?" I suggested. 

"No, it isn't, either. When galloping through soft 
ground there is a sort of a kerchuck and a suckin' as 
the hoofs come out of the muck, that you can hear quite 
a distance on a still night. And then with the ground 
muddy and soft you can't hear them coming by the 
sound passing through your legs, as I have said. It is 
only on solid ground with the hoofs muffled that you 
can hear the rumble through your legs when you can't 
hear them with your ears." 

"But can't you hear the rattle of the sabres and other 
things? I have noticed that there is aways a consider- 
able lot of jingling with a company of cavalry." 

"Oh, they have them things muffled too," was the 
reply. "When they muffle the hoofs, they muffle 


everything else and come along like a loto' spooks. As 
I said afore, the only way you can hear them is through 
your legs, with your feet firmly planted on the ground." 

"Do you think it likely that we will be visited by 
any of these fellows to-night?" I asked, as unconcern- 
edly as I could. 

"Shouldn't be surprised, pard," was the answer; "I 
heard the officers say as they thought we would likely 
have a scrimmage with them before long, and the way 
we have moved about lately is another sign that there 
are some rebs not very far off. But you and I have to 
go on the second relief and then we'll find out. Better 
be careful to-night and keep a close watch, and remem- 
ber what I've been telling you about listening with 
your feet as well as with your ears." 

"I will that," I replied. "And I am much obliged 
for the information you have given me to-night, for it is 
something I never heard of before, and I might have 
been caught napping, for I never heard of horses having 
their hoofs muffled." 

"It's a fact, all the same, and " 

"Fall in, second relief!" 

This interrupted the conversation, and we strapped on 
our cartridge belts and picked up our rifles to go on 
picket, perhaps to be attacked by the hated guerrillas. 


"i'm not afkaid." 

It was an awfully lonesome place where I was posted 
on picket at 11 o'clock that night. It struck me that 
it was the furthermost post of the entire picket line. 
At all events I was the last man of our detail to be 
posted and I could neither see nor hear any one further- 

The snow was falling, but not so hard as it had been. 
It was not as dark as it would have been had there been 
no snow on the ground, but there were obstacles in the 
way of my seeing very far. 

My post was alongside a clump of small trees, 
scarcely more than bushes. About fifty yards behind 
me was the woods, but I did not anticipate attack from 
that direction, as there lay the Union army. About a 
quarter of a mile in front there was another wood, and 
about halfway between there was a stone fence, per- 
haps four or five feet in height. 

After the snow had stopped falling so thickly, I could 
see quite plainly as far as the stone fence, and that par- 
ticular thing was the object of my most earnest solici- 
tude. I could not help thinking that there might be 
some rebels concealed behind that excellent breastwork. 

Then I remembered what the old veteran of the Third 
Wisconsin had been saying to me. It struck me that a 
horse with muffled hoofs would make very little noise 
galloping over ground covered with three or four inches 
of snow, and that made me all the more watchful. 

I commenced to practice the art of hearing through 
my legs as I had been instructed. I shuffled a clear 
place in the snow and stood on my heels with legs stiff- 
ened out till they became lame. I paced up and down 
my beat and at each end and about the middle, stopped 


to listen, first with ears, and then by standing still, rest- 
ing the weight on my stiffened legs, and straining every 
sense of observation and conception to see if I could -dis- 
tinguish any unusual noise, or any abnormal trembling 
of the ground. 

But everything remained as still as a graveyard. 
Everybody knows how snow muffles all sounds, even 
in a big city. There out in the country, at midnight, 
alone, in a dismal corner, the stillness was oppressive. 
It was almost supernatural. The sense of the loneliness 
was intense. 

Now and then, as we simultaneously reached the ends 
of our respective beats, I could catch a glance of my 
next companion on the picket line, and we would ex- 
change a few words. We had been cautioned to keep 
very quiet and listen intently all night, but this became 
unbearable, and finally when I came up, after several 
turns, and again met my neighboring picket, I was glad 
to hear him suggest that we stop and have a talk. 

He was a member of the Second Massachusetts. This 
regiment was composed almost entirely of college boys. 
Nine-tenths of the members left college with Colonel 
Gordon to go to the war. Consequently in intelligence 
and general information that regiment probably had no 
equal in the entire army. 

My companion was a young fellow, not over nineteen 
years of age, only a little older than myself. He was a 
delicate-looking, refined young fellow, and had an en- 
tertaining manner of talking, strikingly different from 
the language of the uncouth Western men belonging to 
the Wisconsin and Indiana regiments of our brigade. 

"It seems to be very quiet out here to-night, partner," 
said he. He didn't even use the ordinary abbreviation 
and say "pard." 

"It is," I replied. "And I have been listening with 
all my ears and legs for the guerrillas they said might 
be around to-night." 

"So have I. They said that there were guerrillas in 
this vicinity during the afternoon and I was told to be 
very careful, but so far I have never seen a quieter 
night. I haven't even heard or seen any signs of a 'coon 
or 'possum. How do you like this sort of life, any- 


"I can't say that I like it at all," I replied, honestly, 
"Especially on such a night as this." 

"It isn't such a bad night," said my companion. "I 
would a good deal rather have this sort of weather "than 
a hard rain." 

"I don't know but I would, too," I answered, "but I 
was speaking generally. I don't like picket duty any- 
how. A fellow never knows what is going to happen 
and has to keep on the alert." 

"That's so, but then there really isn't as much 
danger as one would suppose. I have been on picket 
a good deal, and never yet had any trouble but once, 
and that was just before the Second Bull Kun, when 
the rebel guerrillas made a skirmish upon us and drove 
us back. That is the only time I ever had the least 
trouble, or even a scare." 

"Did you ever hear of the guerrillas coming down 
upon you in the night with their horses' hoofs muffled?" 
I asked. And I explained what the Wisconsin [soldier 
had told me. 

"Yes, I've often heard of that," he answered, "but 
to tell the truth I never met a fellow who actually saw 
it. I don't see how— Hark! What is that?" 

I was much startled at the sudden manner in which 
he had interrupted his own conversation. We both 
listened intently. 

It was the sound of galloping horses, and not muffled 
at that. We also heard the unmistakable clanking of 
the sword scabbards as they jingled around against the 
stirrups of the saddles. 

The clanking of cavalry sabers is an unmistakable 
sound. No one who had once heard it could be misled 
as to what it was. 

My companion hurried down a little further on his 
own post while I sneaked back to the little clump of 
trees referred to. The sound of the clanking swords 
sounded louder and louder as the cavalry, whatever it 
was, came nearer. 

Whatever it was it apparently made no attempt to be 
quiet. There was no muffled hoof business about this, 
that was sure. 

I was not a little startled, however, when the ap- 


proaching horsemen made tbeir sudden appearance 
around a bend in tbe woods. It did not strike me at 
tbe moment that they were coming from the Union side 
of the line, or I might have inferred what it was. 

I cocked my rifle, however, to be ready for any emer- 
gency, and determined to put on as brave a front as 
possible, although to tell the truth I was shaking. 

I remember that it struck me then that there was 
something wrong about the tactics and regulations for 
a man on picket. Instead of first crying "Who comes 
there?" and then shooting in case the answer was not 
satisfactory, I thought the operation ought to be reversed 
—in other words, the shooting to come first and the in- 
quiry after. It would have given a fellow a good deal 
better chance for his life, at times. 

But I waited until the party, ten or fifteen horsemen, 
came within hailing distance, and then cried out : 
"Who comes there?" 
"The grand rounds." 

This answer almost took me off my feet. In the first 
place it was rather an unusual thing for the grand 
rounds to be mounted, and then I had become so worked 
up on the subject of guerrillas that such a thing as 
grand rounds had entirely slipped from my mind. 

The unexpectedness of the reply to my challenge, as 
well as the sudden relief from the tension when I found 
that it was friends and not enemies that were confront- 
ing me, as I said before, almost threw me off my feet 
with astonishment. I imagined that my voice was a 
litth shaky when I gave the next salutation : 

"Officer of the grand rounds, dismount, and give the 

It was the rule, at that time at least, when the grand 
rounds came on horseback, for the officer in charge or 
whoever else was delegated to "take up the password " 
to approach the picket on foot. Otherwise it would 
give the person approaching the picket an undue advan- 
tage had he been other than friendly. 

The officer dismounted, shambled through the snow, 
and said, "Trenton" over my musket at a half-charge 
bayonet, and I continued with the usual permission for 
the remainder of the grand rounds to approach. 


"Everything quiet out here?" asked the officer of the 
grand rounds. 

"Everything quiet, sir," I answered. "I haven't 
seen or heard of anything unusual whatever." 

"All right, then; but keep a close lookout, for there 
are unquestionably guerrillas about. There have been 
some suspicious movements in front of one of the posts 
further down. You can't be too careful, my man." 

"All right, sir," I replied bravely; "I'll keep a close 
look out for them. I'm not afraid !" 

I am rather inclined to think that I lied a little when 
I said that. 




Despite the repeated warnings of the officers, we 
saw nothing in the shape of guerrillas or anything else 
unusual that night. It was more than ordinarily quiet. 
Shortly after the departure of the grand rounds it began 
to snow hard again, and it was so supernaturally still 
and quiet that I almost imagined that I felt the flakes 
strike as they fell. The rustle of a twig breaking from 
a tree with the weight of the accumulating snow upon 
it could be heard some distance, so still was the air. 

It would have been a bad night for an attack of 
guerrillas under such circumstances, although that did 
not strike me at the time. 

My feet were becoming painfully cold and I was get- 
ting chilled through and generally disgusted when the 
approach of the third relief gave me the welcome signal 
that my turn was over and that it was 1 o'clock. 

The picket post headquarters, when I returned to it, 
did not present a very inviting appearance. The fire 
h 1 1 gone down till it was little more than a pile of 
smouldering embers, and all the good places had been 
pre-empted by others. They lay in a circle with their 
feet to the fire, and some of them were snoring with a 
noise that would have made a Silsby steam fire engine 

The sleeping men stretched around the fire presented 
a curious aspect. While the neat from the fire had 
melted the snow from their feet and the lower part of 
their legs, their heads and shoulders were completely 
covered. In fact they looked like piles of snow, with 
human legs sticking out of the sides. 

Then I noticed for the first time another curious cir- 


Each soldier as he lay down to sleep had pulled the 
cape of his blue overcoat over his head, which protected 
that part of the body from the falling snow. When 
covered it resembled a small snowdrift. 

But right in the middle of the top of each of these 
miniature mountains there was a small round hole 
which gave it the appearance of a baby volcano. Had 
it been daylight it would have all the more resembled a 
volcano, for steam would have been seen issuing from 
the "crater." 

"What are those holes for?" I asked my friend of 
the Third Wisconsin, who, being an old soldier, was 
supposed to know all about everything. 

"Those are breathing holes, " he answered. "They 
let the air in." 

"But," I asked, "how is a fellow to keep those holes 
open after he is asleep. Won't he smother if somebody 
don't attend to it?" 

My companion laughed heartily at my ignorance. 

"Why, you goose," said he, "those holes make 
themselves. The breath coming out of your mouth 
keeps them open. No matter how fast it snows, the 
warm breath melts it away above the mouth and keeps 
the air hole open." 

"Then how is it that men die when buried under the 
snow, as they do out in your part of the country, as I 
have often heard?" I asked. 

"Never heard of anybody smothering to death under 
the snow," was the reply. "People get asleep and 
freeze to death, but they don't ever smother for want of 
air. There's no danger of freezing to death here, so 
long as your feet are near the fire. Besides, it isn't cold 
enough for that. Out our way, where we have it below 
zero half the time through the winter and a fellow gets 
asleep on a cold night he never wakes up. But there 
isn't any such danger here, I guess. ' ' 

Still, those curious little air holes over the mouth of 
each sleeping soldier interested me very much. I had 
never heard of such a thing before. But I saw it sev- 
eral times afterward. I cannot say that I saw it a great 
many times, for to tell the truth we did not often have 
snow in Virginia, 


I think the one I am describing was about the deepest 
of my experience there. 

I warmed my feet as best I could at the smouldering 
embers of the fire and then curled myself down on the 
snow-covered ground to sleep, covering my head with 
the cape of my overcoat as I saw the others had done. 

For a few moments I was very cold and shivered as 
if I had a chill. But before long I grew more comfor- 
table and in a little while became deliciously warm. I 
could feel the weight of the snow on my overcoat cape 
over my head, but there was no sonse of suffocation or 
even discomfort for the want of air. In fact I was soon 
so comfortable and contented that I fell into a sound 
sleep and slept on until aroused by the unwelcome cry : 

"Fall in, second relief!" 

Could it be possible that it was nearly 5 o'clock in the 
morning! But such was the fact. I had had nearly 
four hours' good sleep and must once again go out and 
relieve the fellow who was patrolling the post I had 
left at 1 o'clock. 

"It isn't quite 5," said the sergeant; "but' I 
thought as how you might want to make a can of coffee 
to warm you up before you went out." 

Thoughtful, considerate sergeant! I don't know 
that I was ever more grateful to a human being. Al- 
though warm and comfortable while lying there asleep, 
yet 1 was shiveringly cold on arising, and anybody 
knows that it makes a fellow cold under the best of 
circumstances to jump out of bed and hasten to work 
without anything in his stomach. 

It did not take many minutes to boil my tomato can 
of coffee and drink it, while I ate a hard-tack, and I 
was in first class condition for another round on the 
lonesome post. 

From 5 to 7 o'clock in the morning is one of the most 
dismal turns on picket. The slow process of night turn- 
ing into day makes it appear twice as long as any other 
time during the twenty-four hours. Then a fellow is 
tired and sleepy, and there is a nervous strain unknown 
to any other time of the day. 

Anybody who works for a living ten hours a day, dur- 
ing the usual laboring hours, knows that the longest 


time of the day is between 4 and 6 o'clock in the after- 
noon. So it is with the last two reliefs of a soldier on 

For this reason these hours just before dawn were re- 
garded by old army officers as the most dangerous, for 
the alert enemy, knowing the condition ot the men on 
picket, frequently adopted those times for raids and sur- 
prises. Many a battle has been commenced unex- 
pectedly just before daylight and with disastrous results 
to the army attacked. 

But nothing occurred to disturb the monotony of those 
two long hours, and daylight at last began to make its 
appearance. Better yet, the rising sun commenced to 
dissipate the snow clouds and the prospects were that 
we would have a clearer and milder day. 

This turned out to be the case. We had to remain 
about the picket headquarters after going off duty at 7 
o'clock till 9 o'clock, when the new picket came on. 
The sun came out bright and strong, and the snow 
began to melt, till it soon became a disagreeable mass 
of slush. 

While cooking another can of coffee my Massachu- 
setts friend said to me : 

"You didn't have much of a chance to hang up your 
stocking last night, did you?" 

"Hang up my stocking?" I answered, wondering 
what he meant. "I should think not. The best place 
for a fellow's stockings last night was on his feet, I 

"Why, don't you know what night it was?" asked 
my Massachusetts comrade. 

'"What night? Really I hadn't thought. To tell the 
truth I have lost the hang of the almanac. ' ' 

"It was Christmas Eve," he replied. "To-day is 

Sure enough. It was Christmas. And last night 
was Christmas Eve. 

What a Christmas Eve ! 

Those were the times that made a fellow homesick. 
He was all the more impressed with the great contrast 
between "the is and the was." 

Christmas Eve ! I wondered what was going on at 


home. The hanging of stockings, the exchange of pres- 
ents, the merry-making? Were all these things going 
on as usual? 

Were the streets filled with women and children 
carrying mysterious packages? Wer» the men sneak- 
ing home with the ends of half -covered sleds and hobby- 
horses and little express wagons sticking out from the 
bundles under their arms? 

In fact, was the world— the gay, happy world, going 
on just as usual? Were people laughing and singing, 
and pianos playing Christmas carols as of yore? 

Were the girls ? 

The girls ! 

What in the world did a girl look like, anyhow? 
Was there such a thing? Was it reality or a dream 
that I once danced with my arm around a pretty Pater- 
son girl at a Christmas Eve hop? 

Confound it ! Could it be possible that this was the 
same world that I lived in last Christmas, one short 
year ago? 

Was it all a dream? 

Or is the present all a dream? 

Poor boy ! Poor soldier boy ! 




Christmas, 1862. The snow storm had cleared off 
and the sun came out strong and bright. The snow was 
turned into slush in a remarkably short time, and the 
slush soon turned into water. The water mixed with 
the red Virginia clay, and the result was — mud ! 

And such mud ! 

In a previous chapter I told about the mud at Wolf 
Run Shoals, where it was of the consistency of thin 
paste, and so deep that it came up to the bodies of the 
baggage wagons till they resembled boats. But this 
mud was different. 

It was of the consistency of bread dough that has been 
rising in front of the fire all night and is ready for 
kneading in the morning. It was tough, sticky, stringy. 
One could not go many steps before his shoes were 
covered, first so that they resembled red arctics, and 
soon they bore resemblance to pillows. It would be no 
exaggeration to say that the clump of mud stuck fast to 
every soldier's foot was as big as a real pillow — of the 
Pullman car size. 

This sort of walking we had that Christmas morning, 
even through the company streets of the camp. The 
men moved about slowly and laboriously, and there is 
no slang in the statement that at every step he got his 
leg pulled. 

Such surroundings and the fact that it was a holiday, 
put the boys in anything but a pleasant frame of mind, 
but their attention was drawn from it by the introduc- 
tion of a novelty. This was something new in the line 
of rations. 

When the order came to "fall in for rations," I asked 
John Butterworth, my pard, to go and draw mine with 


his, as I was tired with the night's picket duty. John 
came back presently in a state of pleasant excitement. 

"They've given us something new this time, Joe," 
said he. 

"What is it, Jack?" I asked. 

"I don't exactly know what it is," he replied; "but 
I think they called it dissected vegetables." 

' ' D issected vegetables ?' ' 

"Yes, that's what they called it." 

"Let's see it." 

John pulled out two cakes of the "dissected vegeta- 
bles." They were supposed to be three days' rations 
each. Each cake was about twice the size of a stick of 
patent kindling wood. It looked like a mass of com- 
pressed sawdust and hops. 

"What do you do with the stuff?" I asked. 

"They say it is vegetables," replied John. "You 
put it in the kettle or tomato can with a piece of pork 
and some water, boil it and make soup. ' ' 

"Sawdust soup?" I asked. 

"Don't know," answered John. "I only know that's 
what they told us to do with it." 

We concluded to try it at once. We put one of the 
cakes into a tomato can, together with a little piece of 
pork, and filled it with water and went to the camp fire. 
It will be remembered that in the front every man was 
his own cook. It is only when in a camp that is some- 
what permanent that he had a regular cook for the 
whole company. 

Pretty soon the water began to boil and then the cake 
of "dissected vegetables" began to swell. It swelled 
till it not only filled the can, but ran over. I never saw 
anything swell so in my life. It was worse than a 
piece of plug tobacco. It was a common expression in 
the army when borrowing a chew of tobacco from a 
comrade to hear the remark : 

"Don't take too big a bite, for it swells in your 

So it was with the "dissected vegetables." They 
swell, not in the mouth, but in the kettle. The result 
of it was that about half was wasted before the stuff 
was fairly cooked through. 


This was supposed to make vegetable soup. The 
theory was that the vegetables were preserve by pres- 
sure, the same as they preserved fodder for cattle in 
kilos. It was supposed that there were potatoes, tur- 
nips, cabbage, carrots, onions and other succulent vege- 
tables in the mass, but as a matter of fact there was 
nothing but cabbage and carrots, and a very poor article 
at that. At first trial the soup was utterly tasteless, 
but with the addition of plenty of salt and pepper, and 
a little more grease from the pork it became somewhat 
more palatable. 

It was the only thing in the shape of vegetables ever 
served to the soldiers in the army and insipid as it was, 
it was a pleasing addition to our bill of fare The first 
lot we received was tolerably good, but the quality de 
generated till it became nothing more than a lot of rags, 
apparently, and the time soon came when the soldiers 
would not take the trouble of putting it in their haver- 
sacks. In the course of time it was entirely dropped 
from the list of rations. 

But we got something more that day. In addition to 
the usual coffee and pork and beans we got some rice, 
and this was most acceptable. Rice boiled with pork 
really makes a palatable dish. I think that of all the 
things served to the soldiers rice and beans were the 
most acceptable, next of course to the indispensable 
pork and coffee. 

It may here be of interest to the reader to know what 
allowance of food was made for the soldiers "according 
to the regulations." I will give it. 

Twelve ounces of pork or bacon or twenty ounces of 
salt or fresh beef ; twenty -two ounces of soft bread or 
flour, or one pound of hard -tack; (twenty ounces otcorn 
meal was sometimes given in lieu of either of these). 
The above was for each man. Then, for every one 
hundred men, fifteen pounds of beans or peas, ten 
pounds of rice or hominy, eight pounds of roasted coffee 
or twenty-four ounces of tea, fifteen pounds of sugar, 
four quarts of vinegar, twenty ounces of candles, four 
pounds of soap, four pounds of salt, four ounces of 
pepper, thirty pounds of potatoes and one quart of 


The potatoes did not materialize. The only tubers, 
that we got were procured by foraging. I remember 
seeing molasses two or three times. Tea wasn't a pop- 
ular beverage, and the soldier never took it unless he 
could not get his beloved coffee. One of the items on 
the allowance was never seen — fresh bread. 

It will be seen that there was plenty of the substan- 
tials of life to keep body and soul together provided we 
got them all. But there was always something short. 
There was always something "out." We simply had 
to take what we could get or do without. Of course 
we grumbled. 

Kicking was one of the inestimable privileges of a 
soldier that was never interfered v/ith. 

Everything was furnished the army by contract. 
And every government contractor got rich. They took 
the contracts at ridiculously low prices and then got 
square by swindling the soldiers. The food was fre- 
quently of inferior quality, while the shoddy clothing 
that was furnished was at times so bad that it would 
almost fall apart of its own weight. To the soldier, 
who judged the thing simply by experience and obser- 
vation, the terms "contractor" and "robber" were syn- 

Then another discomfort was discovered on that day 
— that merry Christmas Day ! 

The place where we were stopping had been used as 
a camp ground before, and there was the usual result. 
It was not long before the pesky pendicuhis invesii- 
menti began to show himself in great numbers. 

"Why isn't this a good time to get rid of these gray- 
backs for awhile?" asked John Butterworth. 

"How' 11 we do it, Jack?" I asked. 

"I heard Jake Engle say he wasn't going to use the 
kettles to-day," was the reply. "We can get them and 
give our shirts a good boiling." 

"Agreed," said I, "although it isn't a very pleasant 
day for such work." 

"That's so, but we must do it when we can get the 
kettles. Jake may be making bean soup to-morrow." 

The indiscriminate use of the camp kettles for boiling 
lousy shirts and making bean soup may probably strike 


the reader as not being quite as nice as it might be. 
But then these are facts as every soldier can testify. 
"Everything went" in the army. We had to make 
the best of such things as were at our command. 

So we got the kettle and made our way down to the 
brook. It was the same brook that we got our water 
from for culinary purposes; but what of that? I must 
admit, however, that this made me a little "feasty." 
The brook was lined I don't know how far up with 
other soldiers performing both personal ablutions and 
engaged in laundry work, and the surface of the little 
stream was covered with soap suds that floated by us. 

We built a fire, filled the kettle with water and before 
long the water was boiling. 

Then we pulled off our coats, cardigan jackets and 

I can tell you that it isn't pleasant to stand outdoors 
in one's bare pelt in the winter time, even though it be 
in Virginia. We quickly put on the cardigan jackets 
and coats, minus a shirt, but still shivered with the 

Why didn't the men have two shirts? I hear the 
reader ask. 

What was the use of two shirts when one would do? 
Furthermore every ounce counted on the march and 
that was of more importance than the temporary dis- 
comfort of going without while washing the one shirt. 

"Say, Joe," said Butterworth sarcastically, as he 
gave the boiling shirts a poke with a stick he had picked 
up somewhere, "this is a merry Christmas, isn't it?" 

"A Merry Christmas" it was indeed! 




Boiling shirts was one thing. Drying them was 
another. The brook where we were engaged in the 
laundry work ran through a woods, in the shade. Al- 
though the sun was melting the snow in the clearing, it 
seemed to be about at the freezing point there in the 
woods. This fact we didn't notice as 'we carefully 
spread the wet garments over some bushes to dry. 

We went out into the sunshine where it was a little 
warmer, and indulged in a game of tag and a running 
race to keep from being chilled. When we thought the 
shirts might be a little dry we went for an examination. 

Instead of being dry they were frozen stiff. When 
we bent them they cracked like a printing office towel 
that hasn't been washed in six months. 

"I think we area pair of fools," said Butter worth. 
"We might ha' known that the shirts wouldn't have 
dried there in the shade on this cold day." 

"Well, to tell the truth, Jack," said I, "I have not 
had much experience washing shirts and I didn't know 
anything about it. But I guess it will be all right if 
we hang them out in the sun." 

So we hung the shirts in the sun, and as it was get- 
ting toward noon we thought we would kill two birds 
with one stone and keep comfortable around the camp 
fire while cooking some coffee. That warmed us up. 

"The shirts must be pretty dry by this time," said 
John. "I will go and see." 

Butterworth went to look after the laundry while I 
put away the coffee pots. In a few moments my pard 
returned with the most lugubrious expression on his 
face that I ever saw. 


"What's the matter, Jack?" I asked. "Aren't the 
shirts dry yet?" 

"I don't know," he answered, with a quizzical look. 

"Don't know? What's the matter now?" 

"Well, the fact is, Joe, somebody has stolen those 

"Stolen the shirts?" 

"Yes, they're gone." 

It was true. Somebody had "swiped" the shirts. 
Some bright comrade had come to the conclusion that it 
was easier to get a couple of clean shirts that way than 
it was to wash them. There was no use trying to dis- 
cover the thief in such a case as this. The different 
things furnished to the army were as alike as peas, and 
could not be identified. Some of the boys put private 
marks on their articles, but we had never bothered with 

All through the army there were a thievish lot of fel- 
lows in every regiment who seemed to delight in taking 
other's property. I don't think it was considered a sin. 
It was a perfectly natural operation, and legitimately 
within the ordinary degree of normal turpitude of a cer- 
tain class. Blankets, muskets, canteens, everything, 
were indiscriminately "swiped." 

Of course no one suspected a member of his own com- 
pany ! It was always laid to some wicked fellow who 
had sneaked into camp from one of the adjoining com- 
panies. In such, cases, frequently, if the loser was a 
big fellow and a bully, he would coolly go to some 
smaller soldier and calmly demand his blanket or what- 
ever it might be, claiming it as his own and charging 
the little fellow with having stolen it! A pretended 
private mark, some peculiarity suddenly observed at 
the moment, would be utilized to back up the claim of 

That reminds me of a story which may be old to 
many of my readers, but which will serve to illustrate 
the fact stated. 

A soldier went to another who was lying on the 
ground covered with his blanket. The first man coolly 
pulled off the blanket and proceeded to walk off with it. 

"Here, here, what are you doing there?" asked the 


man who owned the blanket. "What are you taking 
my blanket away for?" 

"That's my blanket, you spalpeen, and I have a 
right to take it." 

"Your blanket! How do you make that out?" 

"Sure'n there's my name on it." 


"There. Don't you see the letters, 'U. S.' on it." 

"What's that to do with it? What's your name?" 

' Tat Murphy, There's the U. for Patrick and the S. 
for Murphy— Patrick Murphy. That's my blanket and 
ye can't deny it." 

History doesn't tell us the termination of this story, 
but rt is only an exaggerated illustration of the cheeky 
claims for ownership that were sometimes made in the 

But there we were shivering in the cold for the want 
of a shirt. What should we do? We consulted Heber 

"The quartermaster has just received a lot of clothing 
and perhaps he has some shirts," said Heber. "I will 
give you a requisition." 

Heber made out the requisition for "two shirts" on 
the blanks provided for that purpose and we went to the 
quartermaster's and after the usual delay and red tape 
managed to procure the desired garments, which we 
put on then and there. They were neither of the right 
size, but we had learned not to mind a little thing like 

"Joe," said Butter worth, "I have an idea." 

"If you have, Jack," I replied, banteringly, "keep 
hold of it for fear it will get away from you.'' 

"No, but it's a good idea. What's the use of bother- 
ing with washing our shirts when we can draw new 

"True enough," I replied. "That is a good idea. I 
don't thmk I will do any more washing." 

And I think that this was the usual practice with old 
soldiers, whenever it was possible. The government 
allowed a certain amount of clothing, and so long as 
the account was not overdrawn a soldier could always 
obtain a supply. Of course it was not always possible, 


for the quartermaster was one of those fellows who was 
not with the camp when there were signs of a conflict; 
but the allowance was liberal, and the practice of draw- 
ing new underclothing became more general with the 
old soldiers than washing out the old ones. 

It was on the next day after this, if I remember 
rightly, that General Williams woke up and decided 
that the army under his command had not had quite 
enough work to do, and that it would also add to his 
glory and renown to have a division review. 

Now a review or inspection was always obnoxious 
under the most favorable circumstances, but at that par- 
ticular time, with the ground so thickly covered with 
mud, we came to the conclusion that the officers all had 
gone mad. "Kicking" doesn't fairly express the con- 
duct of the boys on that occasion. 

But what was the use of kicking? The generals and 
others gave the orders and all that we had to do was to 
obey them. We wallowed through the mud and went 
through the various evolutions connected with a review 
as well as we could, and it must have been pretty good 
after all, for we were subsequently complimented by 
"general orders." 

"Something on hand, pard," said my friend of the 
Third Wisconsin, who had got in the habit of making 
friendly visits. "As I told you often before, there's 
always something coming when we have these reviews 
and inspections. We won't stay here long." 

It really did seem so, and I remembered these words 
when the very next day we were ordered to fall in for a 

That was the most ridiculous day's march we ever 
had. We had only fairly got started, and in fact had 
not gone more than a mile, when we were formed into 
companies, ordered to stack arms and go into camp 

What could this mean? We soon found out that the 
doctor had pronounced the water in the other camp im- 
pure and had advised a change. I guess the doctor 
must have examined the brook immediately after we 
had washed our shirts. If so, no wonder he found it 


But the change was a good one. The brook along- 
side of which we camped this time was as clear and 
pure as crystal — although there was no telling how long 
it would remain so. The ground was higher and dryer, 
the wood was plentiful, and altogether it was an im- 
provement that pleased us much. We were also de- 
lighted to hear that we would likely remain there for 
some time. 

Early next morning, however, we were hustled out 
and ordered to put all our knapsacks in a big pile, with 
a layer of light wood between them, so that the whole 
lot could be set afire and burned up at a moment's 
notice i 

What under the sun did this mean? 

Had the officers all gone crazy? 




To us private soldiers the scene in which we had just 
participated was incomprehensible. Why the officers 
piled our knapsacks in a great heap, mixed with light 
wood and small branches, ready to form a gigantic fire, 
was something that we could not understand. 

Equally incomprehensible to us was the fact that Ave 
were ordered to fall in for a march in "light marching 

Here it was, as one might say, in dead of winter, and 
wo were ordered off with nothing but our overcoats and 
blankets, in addition to our accouterments, at a time 
when we needed every article that we could possible 
carry to make ourselves comfortable. 

It was a hard march that the officers gave us that 
day. We hurried along the muddy roads, and across 
lots through muddy fields, hither and thither, till tired 
out and completely disgusted, we once more came to a 
creek, that we immediately recognized as that forlorn 
place, Wolf Run Shoals. 

Here we halted for the first time, and despite the con- 
dition of the ground, we were so tired that we lay right 
down in the mud to get some rest, being absolutely too 
much played out to cook the coffee that we were all in 
need of. 

When we halted we imagined of course that we were 
going into camp then and there, and there were loud 
and deep imprecations over the orders that had deprived 
us of our knapsacks, and other things so much needed 
at that time of the year. 

*'Dat vas ein shames, don'd it," said John Ick lugu- 
briously. "Vat you tinks, Reddy?" 

"Be jabers and Oi think they are a set of lu-nat- 


ticks," replied Redely. "Do they suppose we're a lot of 
Eskimoxis to bo able to slape in the snow and ate taller 
candles? A grease-eatin' Dutchman like ye, shouldn't 
moind, but for respectable men the loikes o' me, be 
jabers, it isn't roight, that's phwat it isn't." 

"Who vas dot grease-eatin' Dutchman, you ninper- 
poop," replied Ick, somewhat angrily; "don'd you call 
me by some names like dot, Redely." 

"That's phwat ye are," replied Reddy. "Don't Oi 
know? You Dutchmen do nothing but ate sourkrout 
and blood puddin', and fat sausages and duck livers 
win at yer home, and that's next door to atin' taller 
candles, don'd it?" 

"Der Deutschmens lives better as by the Irishes, 
Reddy, und don'd you forgot dot. You Irishes eats 
gooses, und dot's worser by taller candles, don'd it?" 

"Oi wish Oi had a good fat goose now," said Reddy, 
smacking his lips. 

"Vas you hungry, alretty, Reddy?" 

"Oi am that. Oi could ate a whole soide o' sole 

"I vas so hungry mine own selluf, Reddy. You gets 
some woods und I vill der coffee cooken." 

"No, ye get the wood, and Oi'll cook the coffee." 

•'Nein, I will dot coffee cooken. Dot vas your turns 
to get some woods." 

"Phwat d'ye mean, ye spalpeen? I got the last 
wood. ' ' 

"No, you don'd, Reddy. It vas me by dot last woods 

"John, ye are the worm st loyer Oi iver saw. You 
know that's your turn to get the wood." 

"Don'd you calls my dot name some more, Reddy, 
oder I'll smash your face all over your nose." 

"Let's see you do that, ye spalpeen," said Reddy, 
getting angry and jumping to his feet. "Oi have had 
enough o' this palaver from the loikes o' ye." 

Ick thought Reddy meant business, and squared him- 
self for the encounter. Reddy thought that Ick was 
going to carry out his threat to "smash his face all over 
his nose." 

The discomforts of the situation and the fatigue from 


that day's march through the sticky mud had put 
everybody in a bad humor. Reddy Mahar and John 
Ick, whose respective characteristics were more animal 
than intellectual, had created a safety valve for their 
outraged feelings. They were both in a humor to fight. 
They would have fought anybody. It made no differ- 
ence whom. But the conflict had naturally arisen be- 
tween these two strange companions. 

They both struck out simultaneously. I never saw a 
prettier rough-and-tumble. The first blow given by Ick 
looked as if he really would carry out his face smash- 
ing threat. He landed a right bander square on 
Reddy's proboscis, which set the claret flowing. Reddy 
retaliated with a blow that would have been declared 
foul in the prize ring because of its being below the belt. 
To this day I can hear the grunt that came out of Ick's 
body involuntarily. 

Then they withdrew a few steps from each other, and 
after looking into each other's eyes for a moment like 
wild beasts at bay, they once more came together with 
a clash and crash. 

The result of this collision simply involved a problem 
in momentum. Ick was the heavier of the two, and to 
use a slang phrase, he walked right over Mahar. The 
latter went down, with Ick on top of him. 

Reddy was the slimmer of the two and more supple in 
his movements. Ick was a big, clumsy fellow, and al- 
though on top, the under dog in this fight had decidedly 
the best of it. They punched and scratched, gouged 
and bit, rolling first one way and the other, through the 
thick mud on the ground, till they were both besmeared 
from head to foot. 

I guess the fight lasted fifteen minutes. The officers 
of the company, with the others, were holding a con- 
sultation at regimental headquarters, so that there was 
no interference from that score. The privates and non- 
commissioned officers had learned never to interfere 
with these periodical conflicts between Reddy Mahar 
and John Ick, for we all knew that they would again be 
the varmest of friends when it was over. 

Besides, it was rather a diversion to the rest of us. 
It was a sort of relief to our feelings. We all felt in the 


humor to fight something or somebody. Even I, who 
had never fought anything in my life, felt as if I could 
whip anything that came along. There is a certain 
time when man's endurance has been about exhausted 
that this feeling is natural and involuntary. 

Exactly how the fight ended I can't tell. I remember 
that both the belligerents got up simultaneously, wiped 
the blood and mud out of their eyes with their coat 
sleeves, and then Ick said : 

"I told you vat we does, Reddy; we'll both go after 
some wood and then both dot coffee cooken, don'd it?" 

"Thin why didn't ye say that before, ye spalpeen, 
and act like a gintlemen?" replied Reddy. 

The two dromios thereupon shook hands in the most 
cordial manner imaginable, and they were friends once 
more. The comical termination of the fight, although 
it was the way all their fights terminated, set us all to 
laughing for the first time that day, and I must confess 
that it put us in better humor. 

The rest of us had been aroused from the depression 
we had fallen into, and by mutual consent we concluded 
to follow their example, get some wood and cook some 
coffee, for we were all in need of it. 

But we had wasted our valuable time. We had been 
watching a pugilistic encounter instead of attending to 
very necessary culinary duties. It was too late now. 
The officers just at that moment returned to the com- 
pany and gave the order to "fall in." 

There was more kicking, of course, but it did not 
amount to anything. All that we had to do was to obey 
orders. The duty of a soldier is to "say nothing and 
saw wood." 

They say that the work that drives convicts to insanity 
quicker than anything else is the apparently nonsen- 
sical labor of carrying a pile of stone one by one from 
one end of the prison yard to the other, and when that 
is done, carrying them back again one by one. This is 
kept up incessantly day after day, and the monotonous 
labor eventually drives the unhappy victim to the 
lunatic asylum. 

It was for a somewhat similar reason that the soldiers 
were frequently driven to the verge of insanity. There 


seemed to be no end to the practice of marching the 
troops back and forth, hither and thither, without any- 
apparent cause or reason. The object of all this prob- 
ably was known to the officers, but the privates were 
kept in ignorance. I often thought that the enlisted 
men would have a good deal less mental worriment and 
fatigue if they had some of these things explained to 
them. But that wouldn't be "according to the regula- 
tions. ' ' 

Imagine our disgust, therefore, to be marched back 
right over the ground we had taken in the fore part of 
the day. We followed the same course so accurately 
that we almost stepped into the same tracks that we had 
made in the forenoon. 

We reached the old camping grounds toward night, 
tired out, hungry, discouraged and utterly disgusted. 

Some such experience as this must have inspired the 
author of the old Mother Goose story about the famous 
king who, with his forty thousand men, marched them 
up the hill and then marched them down again. 




There lay our kDapsacks and other things in the 
great pile, with the light wood mixed with them, ready- 
to set fire. They hadn't been burned up after all. This 
made it look more mysterious than before. 

They had been left in charge of a detail of men under 
command of Major Chadwick. He had taken good 
care of them. No one had stolen any of the knapsacks. 

It seems that the movement that we had made that 
day is what they called a "reconnaissance." It was re- 
ported that there were some rebels in the neighborhood 
of Wolf Run Shoals, and we had gone to see if it was 
so. Had there been any we would naturally have got 
into a fight. This going out of the way to get into a 
muss was one of the things that never met my approval. 
Why not leave well enough alone? 

But we met no enemy at Wolf Run Shoals, for the 
reason that there was no enemy there, and we conse- 
quently all came back on foot instead of on stretchers 
or in ambulances. 

It also seems that the officers feared a raid by the 
rebel guerrillas while we were on the reconnaissance, and 
so the knapsacks had been arranged in a pile ready to 
set fire and destroy on the first appearance of the enem} T . 
Rather destroy government property at any time than 
permit it to fall into the hands of the enemy. That is 

When the ranks were broken the men were directed 
to find thoir own knapsacks. 

Well ! Here was a job ! 

There were six or seven hundred knapsacks in that 
pile, and they wore as much alike as so many peas in a 


pod. Not half a dozen in the entire lot had any partic- 
ular mark to identify them. 

There had been no arrangement or system in piling 
them up. They were thrown in the pile promiscu- 
ously, indiscriminately. For each man to pick out his 
own was consequently a tedious task. Nearly every 
one had to be opened to see what was inside, so that it 
might be recognized by the owner. That took a good 
deal of time. It was late in the night before they were 
all claimed, and even as it was, some mistakes had to 
be rectified the next morning. 

Butterworth knew my knapsack, and while he was 
looking for his and mine, I cooked some coffee, so that 
we did not crawl under our blankets hungry. But many 
another soldier did. I have heard kicking many a time 
on the part cf the Thirteenth Regiment, but I cannot 
recall any occasion when the kicking equalled that 
which was indulged in that night. 

We remained in camp at this place about ten days. 
We had become convinced that we would make it our 
winter quarters, and had spent some time and gone to 
no little trouble in fitting up log houses, "with all 
modern improvements." But alas! there's no rest for 
the wicked — nor for the soldier. 

On the 4th of January we were once more ordered to 
break camp, and once more started on the march. It 
was not in light marching order this time, however. 
We carried our knapsacks and everything we could 
pack in them. 

Once more we went over that too familiar road toward 
Wolf Run Shoals. It was not so bad this time, how- 
ever, for the mud had either dried away or the ground 
was frozen, I've forgotten which. Anyhow, the walk- 
ing was not nearly as bad as it was on the previous 
occasion, nor did we seem to be in a like feverish haste. 

We were halted and directed to form camp almost on 
the same identical ground where John Butterworth and 
I had got such a soaking that night when the rain 
rushed through our "pup" tents, going into the backs 
of our necks and coming out at the bottom of our trous- 
ers' legs. 
• It was a good place for a camp, T&ere was plenty of 


timber to cut down and make into log houses, and there 
was an ample supply of good water. We were more 
than pleased to hear that we had at last reached our 
"winter quarters," and that we might proceed to make 
ourselves comfortable with some degree of certainty of 
remaining there for a while. 

Butterworth and I spent a busy day making another 
log house, after the style of architecture described in a 
previous chapter. It was the most cozy place we had 
yet had, for experience had taught us how to make 
things comfortable with the limited means at our dis- 

It was a wonderful thing how quickly the dense 
woods disappeared. In twenty -four hours the ground 
around the camp, for a space covering several acres, 
was entirely cleared, and where there had stood large 
trees there was nothing left but a lot of stumps. These 
stumps came in useful for a number of purposes. 

I was detailed a day or so afterward with some other 
fellows to smooth off the top of a big stump in front of 
Colonel Carman's tent. We did not know what it was 
for, the only instructions we received being "to make it 
smooth enough to write upon." Inasmuch as the only 
tools we had for this purpose were some axes (and not 
over sharp at that) and our jackknives, it may be 
imagined that it was no easy task, and the result was 
not quite as satisfactory as the green baize top of a roll- 
top desk of modern times. When we had done the best 
we could, the colonel said: "Let it go at that," and 
that settled it. 

Then Captain Scott called me to his tent and set me to 
work making out the pay rolls. This showed what the 
stump was to be used for. The paymaster was coming 

The pay rolls, as well as all the other rolls of the 
army, were enormous affairs. There is hardly a desk 
made in these days that would accommodate one of 
them. With the limited facilities at our command at 
the front it was a difficult thing to make them out at 
the best. The "desk" that I wrote upon was the top of 
an old cracker box, which took in about one-quarter of 
the big sheet of paper, and so it had to be made out in 
sections, as it were. 


Three copies of these rolls had to be made out. They 
contained the name of the soldier, the date of his enlist- 
ment and muster, and lots of other things, beside the 
time he had served since his last payment. When com 
pleted they had to be certified to by the commandant of 
the company. 

In the army enlisted men had to swear to all legal 
proceedings. The commissioned officers only had to 
' 'certify' ' on their word of honor. The ' ' word of honor' ' 
and "certification" of a commissioned officer was con- 
sidered as binding as the oath of a private or # 'non- 
commish. " The former were a higher grade of mortals, 
and were governed by a different code of morals. 

That may be all right in theory, but — well, never 
mind ! 

A day or so later the paymaster arrived. His high 
and mighty giblets was of the usual arbitrary and 
arrogant character, an autocrat of the autocrats. His 
clerk spread the rolls out on the stump we had cleared 
off, and an assistant carried the grip that contained the 

The officers were paid off first, of course, and we 
envied them as they stuffed the thick wad of crisp green- 
backs, never before used, fresh from the press, into their 
pockets. Then came the non-commissioned officers and 
then the "men." 

The amount given to each diminished in size as the 
process continued. The omnipresent sutler was there 
for his grab, as usual. What was left for each private 
wasn't much. He might have stuck it into his ear, and 
it wouldn't have impaired his hearing at that! 

There were two months to be paid for. There was a 
good deal more than that coming, but the paymasters 
were always several months behind in their payments 
for some reason or other. If we were paid to within 
six months of the time due, we were lucky. 

When I had signed my name to the three rolls — and 
signing one's name with a scraggly pen on the rough 
top of the stump was no soft snap at that — and the pay- 
master had deducted the amount due to the sutler, I had 
fourteen dollars left. I hadn't spent so much with the 
sutler this time, probably because the sutler had been 
separated from the regiment so much of the time. , 


A large proportion of the men sent their money 
home, through the medium of messengers sent to the 
front for the purpose by Governor Marcus L. Ward. 
This was a good and safe arrangement. It was also 
touching to witness the devotion of the men to their 
families at home. Some of them sent every cent when 
a little change would have provided them with many a 

I didn't send mine home. I had no one to depend on 
me, and I was glad of it. On the contrary I soon got 
rid of the bulk of mine in another way. I am sorry to 
tell how, but the truth must be told, even though it be 
not very creditable. 

Sam Dougherty, one of the sergeants, came up to me 
and asked : 

"How much did you get?" 

"Fourteen dollars," I replied. 

"What are you going to do with it?" 

"I don't know. Keep it, I suppose." 

"Suppose we have a little draw?" he said. 




"What do you mean by draw?" I innocently asked 
Sergeant Dougherty. 

"Poker," he replied. "Draw poker." 

"Pd make a pretty fist at that," said I; "I never 
played a game of poker in my life. I can go you on 
High-Low or euchre, but I don't know anything about 
poker. ' ' 

"That makes no difference," said he insinuatingly; 
"it is the easiest game to learn you ever saw, and I can 
show you in five minutes." 

I was innocent, and imagined that it must be a simple 
game that can be learned in five minutes. Sam Dough- 
erty was perhaps the first man that ever lived that had 
the assurance to make such an assertion. 

We went to Sam's log house, and with a greasy old 
deck of cards spread out on the lid of a cracker box, he 
began to initiate me into the mysteries and intricacies 
of the great game of "draw." 

He fired at me a perfectly bewildering lot of straights, 
full houses, bob-tail flushes, royal flushes, ace and king 
highs, and all that. The more he explained the more I 
got mixed up. One thing particularly struck me, how- 
ever, and that was the "bluff." He carefully impressed 
this on me, and told me how a man with a poor hand 
could frequently win if he kept the right sort of an ex- 
pression of confidence and didn't lose his nerve. 

I concluded that I'd let the other things go and con- 
fine myself to the bluff. I would make that "the feat- 
ure" of my game. 

The quartette indulging in that wonderful game com- 
prised Sam Dougherty, Lew Van Orden, Charles Rue- 


stow and myself. Van Orden was a good player 
already, having bad considerable experience in tbe 
game. Ruestow, like myself, was a novice. We al- 
ways called him "Rooster." Nearly all the soldiers 
had some sort of a nickname. 

We used little pieces of twigs for "chips," and each 
was supposed to represent five cents. 

"We'll make it five cents ante with a dollar limit," 
said Sam. I didn't know an ante from an uncle, but 
didn't want to display my ignorance before the others. 

Sam dealt the cards. I got two deuces, a tray, a jack 
and queen. I had caught on to the fact that three of a 
kind was better than two of a kind, and so discarded 
the jack and queen. Then I drew two cards. 

They were two jacks. 

What a fool I was, I thought to myself. If I had 
only kept that other Jack I would have had three of 
them. As it was I had two jacks and deuces. I 
thought that was a pretty good hand. 

All the other fellows "went five better.'' Neither 
Reustow nor myself had the slightest idea of what this 
was, but when we saw the others lay down another twig 
we did the same thing. This thing went around twice 
and then some one "called." 

We threw down our hands, and strange to say I had 
won. The next highest hand was a pair of ten spots. 
My jacks had beaten that. The man with the ten spots 
had also a pair of nines. It struck me that twice ten 
and twice nine counted more than twice two and two 
jacks, but I entered no protest when they said I was the 
winner, and I raked in the chips representing about sixty 
or seventy cents, I've forgotten exactly how much. 

I was elated at this victory. It swelled ni} T head and 
I began to imagine that I saw through the whole 
thing. Sam was right when he said this was an easy 

In the next hand I made a phenomenal draw. I held 
four aces. By intuition I recognized that as good, and 
I could not help looking pleased. 

Sam thought I was profiting by his advice on the 
question of bluff, and he apparently made up his mind 
to push me to the wall. The other fellows seemed to 


have good hands also, for the betting went round and 

I won again. My four aces was "good." 

"Are you sure you never played this game before?" 
asked Sam incredulously. 

I solemnly assured him that this was the first time I 
had ever played draw poker. But from the look on his 
face I don't think that he believed me. 

Lew Van Orden said nothing, but I noticed that he 
exchanged glances with Sam Dougherty. I didn't un- 
derstand what it meant at the time. Charley Reustow 
was also silent. But he was a bright little fellow, and 
I felt that he was closely studyiug the game. As for 
myself I began to think that I was a boss player. 

My next hand positively had nothing in it. I gave 
myself away by drawing five cards. Then I found that 
my hand was just as bad if not worse than before. But 
I decided to try the bluff game this time. I didn't 
know that bluffing doesn't generally "go" after a five 
card draw, but I tried it all the same. 

Singular to say it worked all right. The others had 
grown suspicious of my good luck, and Sam apparently 
didn't think that I would bluff after drawing five cards, 
and imagined of course that I had struck another 
phenomenal hand. 

When I had scooped in the third pot, Sam asked me 
to let him see my hand. I didn't knov/ any better and 
showed it to him. When he saw that there was noth- 
ing in it he made a remark that I didn't fully under- 
stand. It was something like "being taken for a 
sucker." I wasn't yet sufficiently acquainted with the 
technical terms of the game to understand what this 
meant. Again I noticed Lew winking at Sam in a some- 
what suggestive manner. 

Another hand being dealt and getting another poor 
lot of cards, I again tried the bluff game and laid down 
my chips with an expression supposed to represent a 
man who has a good thing and knows it. But it didn't 
work this time. I was "called" and Van Orden 
grabbed the pot, after exhibiting three nines and two 
trays. "A full house," he called it. 

I began to lose faith in the bluffing business, but 


thought that maybe after all my losing the hand was 
only an accident. 

The next hand I drew was " 'way up in G." It con- 
tained four queens and a jack. I chipped in with the 
greatest confidence and could not conceal the certainty 
I felt of winning. When somebody had "called," I 
threw down my four queens and jack with a wave of 
triumph, and made a motion to grab the stakes. 

"Hold on there," said Sam, seizing my hand. "Don't 
be quite so fast, my young man. I think I'll take that 

"What have you got?" I asked. 

He threw down his hand. It didn't look to me as if 
it was anything very wonderful. 

"Well, what of that?" I asked. "That lot of stuff 
don't beat four queens, does it?" 

"Of course it does. That's a royal flush." 

"What is a royal flush?" I asked. 

"It is a hand," replied Sam, "where you have the 
cards in regular order, like one, two, three, etc., and all 
of the same color." 

"Well, what of that?" 

"What of that!" said Sam, with a face as sober as a 
judge ; "that's the highest hand you can hold, and takes 

"I thought a royal flush must be all the same suit,'* 
interrupted Ruestow. "I don't see how you make it out 
of a mixture of diamonds and hearts." 

"That don't make any difference, " said Sam, "so 
long as they are of the same color. Isn't that so, Lew?" 
turning to Van Orden. 

"Yes, that's so 3 " replied the latter gravely. "All 
that is uecessary is that the sequence should be of the 
same color." 

"I know that it isn't so," interrupted Ruestow. 
"They must be of the same suit." Sam looked angrily 
at this interference, and demanded : 

"I thought this was the first game of poker that you 
ever played? 5 * 

"So it is, ,: replied Ruestow; "but I've read a great 
deal about the game and know that I'm right." 

A very black look came over the faces of Sam and 


Lew. Ruestow noticed this, and throwing down his 
cards he got up and said he would not play any more. 

I remained, and at the suggestion of the others made 
it a three-handed game. From that moment my luck 
seemed to forsake me. I couldn't understand half the 
decisions that were made, hut I supposed they were all 
right. They were experienced poker players and this 
was my first game. 

Under such circumstances the result was inevitable. 

When I walked out an hour afterward my fourteen 
dollars were gone! 

I can't say that I regretted the experience. It had 
taught me a good lesson. I played many a time after 
that, while in the army, but never again for real money. 
Plain, everyday chips having only a supposititious value 
were good enough for me after that. 

But in all my subsequent playing I never ran across 
anybody who had the same interpretation of a "royal 
flush" as the two gentlemen who initiated me into the 
mysteries of the game of draw. 


A private's philosophy. 

The camp we occupied was "Near Fairfax Station,' y 
and so our letters were dated and our mail addressed. 
We occasionally, when we bad the chance, went out to 
see the "station." That was all there was of the place, 
by the way. It was a big storehouse, built of rough 
boards, alongside the track, with the platform on the 
railroad side, so that it was simply and purely a freight 
house. It was the depot of supplies for the army in 
that part of Virginia. 

Such a thing as a passenger car was never seen. 
Everybody who rode, even the officers, sat in the freight 
cars. The officers seemed to have a good deal of busi- 
ness to call them back and forth, but there were not 
many privates to be seen on the cars — at least not out- 
ward going. Occasionally some lucky fellow would get 
a furlough. But the most were new recruits, arriving 
from home. 

The quantity of goods and provisions that continually 
kept coming was immense, and for the first time we 
began to get an idea of the tremendous quantities needed 
to supply an army. And we constituted only a very 
small portion of the army at that. 

There was a strange sensation at the first sight of a 
railroad train, primitive and rough though it was, after 
not having had that pleasure for so long a time. We 
had become impressed with the feeling that we were m 
another sort of a world and that such things as steam 
cars and carriages, houses and stores, were but the 
memories of some half-forgotten dream. But the sight 
of the locomotive and car seemed to open a new link 
with the outer world. 

Particularly striking was it to me to see on the loco- 


motive the familliar name of ** Rogers.'' Oh, you de- 
lightful old thing from Paterson ! I could almost have 
hugged it — that is if I could have got my arms around 
something small enough to hug, 

I sat there on the rough platform and gazed at the 
name "Rogers" as if fascinated, I forgot the sur- 
roundings of the place and was carried back to glorious 
old Paterson! Then my thoughts wandered down to 
the corner of Broadway and Main Street, to the old 
Guardian building, and for a few moments I was back 
there again, wearing a long apron and "kicking" the 
Ruggles press, I forgot for the moment that kicking a 
Ruggles press is likened to nothing under the sun beside 
a treadmill or a slave galley, but it seemed a delight- 
ful occupation just then by contrast. 

But I was suddenly awakened from the dream by a 

' ' Let me see your pass, ' ' said he. 

I had no pass. I had simply wandered over from the 
camp to "take a look at things." 

"Then get back to your camp," said the sergeant 
harshly. He was a member of the provost guard or 
something. They always had something of this sort 
hanging around the depots. The powers that be knew 
that the cars awakened just such memories as they had 
awakened in me, and that it was one of the greatest 
known incentives to desertion. 

I never thought of desertion. But it may be imagined 
what would be the tendency of such a train of thought 
on the part of a soldier who ever dreamed of "skedad- 
dling." So I wont back to camp — thinking. 

There perhaps was never a soldier in the army who 
did not have such moments as these, when some out- 
ward conditions or situation would arouse a terribly 
strong feeling of homesickness. With some it was a 
good deal stronger than in others. With some it was 

'Twas not always cowardice that made soldiers desert. 
Something stronger than fear caused some to forget 
their oaths. Not even the hardships of the winter at 
the front, not even the horrors of the forced march was it 
that made men forget their oaths and disgrace themselves 


in the eyes of their country. It was pure and unadul- 
terated homesickness. 

Had there been a more liberal policy in regard to the 
granting of furloughs this might have been oifset. The 
officers refused furloughs as much as possible for fear 
that the soldiers might desert. In my opinion exactly 
the opposite would have been the result. 

I knew of one poor fellow who deserted because he 
had received word that his wife was on her deathbed. 
He asked for a furlough but could not get it. There 
was uo reason for the refusal at the time. So he obeyed 
the stronger instinct and deserted. When his wife died 
and was buried, he started to return, but was captured 
by the provost guard, tried, convicted, and sentenced to 
one year in a military prison. Of what use was that? 

I am not going to defend the deserter. There is noth- 
ing in the world more despicable. But there were 
deserters and deserters, and in dealing with them there 
was a lamentable lack of common sense and humanity. 

Another thing that made us disgusted just about this 
time was the way the officers were resign ing. They were 
going home by the score and new men were taking their 
places. Our captain, Scott, sent in his resignation, and 
it was accepted in a few days, and the first we privates 
knew about it was when he came around and bade us 

Captain Scott was not the most noted officer in the 
war, as officers are regarded, but he was kind to the 
men. He was a boy with the boys. At the close of a 
weary day's march he would gather the company 
around him and start up a song in which we would all 
join, and the hour or so thus spent relieved many a 
heavy heart. The other officers criticized this severely, 
saying that it was unmanly, and that it was not con- 
ducive to discipline to have a captain mingling so famil- 
iarly with his men. But there was no airishness on 
the part of Captain Scott and his men liked him for it. 

At the same time I cannot commend this sort of busi- 
ness as a general rule. The more an officer holds him- 
self aloof from his men the more will they respect him 
in the end, and the better will be the discipline. 

This was made manifest by the character of the officer 


who succeeded Captain Scott. It was the late adjutant, 
Charles H. Hopkins. He was a man of high breeding, 
finely educated, refined, and what might be called a 
member of the four hundred, had there been such a 
thing in those times. 

He was the exact opposite of Captain Scott. At first 
he would have been considered a martinet and an utterly 
heartless officer. But he understood military matters 
better than his predecessors, and brought into the 
officers' tent a degree of dignity and manliness there- 
tofore unknown, with the exception of Lieutenant 
Heber Wells. 

With the men Captain Hopkins was rather austere. 
Everybody soon recognized the fact that he was way 
above him in more than his finer clothes and his shoul- 
der straps. It is rather a hard task to take a rough 
stone and make a finished diamond out of it, but that 
is just what Captain Hopkins did with Company K. 

We first feared, then respected, then admired. We 
recognized in him a man of superior intelligence and 
ability — one who could not only command, but one 
whom every man considered it an honor to obey. The 
result of it was that Company K soon obtained the rep- 
utation of being one of the best companies of the Thir- 
teenth Regiment, both in discipline and drill, and even 
those who liked the free-and-easy familiarity of Captain 
Scott soon began to appreciate that it is better to have 
a captain who preserves his dignity on all occasions, 
and proves by his conduct his superiority and his fitness 
to be the commanding officer. 

So, therefore, not only does this sort of conduct make 
a better officer in the opinion of officers, but the fact is 
very soon appreciated among the privates. The old 
army officers are right. The general rule is good, that 
the less contact and less familiarity, in a strictly per- 
sonal way, there is between officer and private, the better 
the discipline and the greater the efficiency of the or- 

I think this rule holds good in civil life as well as 
military. It is human nature for men to hold those 
oyer them in higher respect if they keep themselves be- 
hind a breastwork of dignity that is not carried to such 
an extent that it is offensive. 


There were changes in all the other companies, so 
many had been the resignations and consequent promo- 
tions. Many of the sergeants stepped one grade higher, 
and discarded the government uniforms of "enlisted 
men," for the finer cloth of "commissioned officers." 

And let me say right here, that of all the martinets, 
the rough, tyrannizing officers of the army, there were 
none so bad as a man who had just been promoted from 
the ranks to the shoulder straps. For a little while the 
sudden transition from subserviency to power made the 
new officer a petty tyrant. But fortunately this soon 
passed over, as soon as he became familiar with the 
privileges and novelties of power. 

Some of the promotions from the ranks were obtained 
from what in these days would be called a "pull." 
Political influence, friendly connections or relationships 
with those in authority, and similar causes, frequently 
resulted, for instance, in a private being promoted right 
over the heads of a lot of corporals and sergeants whose 
turn would have come next. This always made a great 
deal of dissatisfaction and grumbling. But it couldn't 
be helped. All that the disappointed ones could do was 
to kick — like a mule. 

While all this comes in quite properly and consecu- 
tively, yet it is somewhat of a digression from my story, 
to which I will now return. 


"the mud march." 

"Joe," said my pard, "if you want to see a queer 
sort of a bridge, just come down to the creek. ' ' 

"What is it, John?" I asked. "What is there so 
very queer about it?" 

"Come down and see. It's only a little ways." 

We went down to the little creek that we had already 
crossed over several times. There was still a consider- 
able quantity of water in the stream and it was running 
almost with the swiftness of a mill race. 

The bridge was really worth going to see. One had 
been constructed already and the "sappers and miners," 
as the military engineers were called by the soldiers, 
were at work upon a second one near by. 

The distance between the sides or banks of the stream 
must have been forty or fifty feet. The bridges that 
were being constructed were made of trunks of small 
trees perhaps five or six inches in diameter, and not one 
of them more than ten feet long. It is not such a hard 
task to erect a bridge fifty feet in length out of timber 
ten feet long, providing one has plenty of spikes or bolts 
or something of that sort to fasten the pieces together, 
and there are piers in the stream to lay the ends, so as 
to divide the bridge into spans. 

But these bridges were being built in a single arch, 
and there was not a pier in the middle. Furthermore 
the short pieces of timber were not nailed or spiked to- 
gether. They were simply interlocked in a curious 
manner hardly possible to describe without a diagram. 
The ends passed each other, and there were two cross 
pieces at each end of the poles — they were nothing more 
than thick poles— all arranged in such a manner that 
they bound against each other and made a very solicj 


structure. The greater the weight placed upon them 
the stronger they were, while a comparatively slight 
pressure upward from underneath would have knocked 
the structure apart as if it had been of cardboard. 

This was a curiosity to me and the many others who 
watched the erection of the bridges. To make a bridge 
with a forty or fifty foot span out of pieces not more 
than ten feet long, without a piece of metal or a rope to 
fasten it together, is really a feat in engineering won- 
derful to contemplate. 

I have since that time made little bridges on this 
principle out of matches or toothpicks, with a span of 
nearly a yard, to the great wonder of all who saw it. 
We saw the same sort of bridge many a time after, as 
well as many other curious things that were done by 
the sappers and miners. But when we saw the first of 
these structures, and presently saw heavy baggage 
wagons crossing them, it really did seem as if all the 
rules of mechanics had been upset. 

"I think the building of these bridges is rather sus- 
picious," said Butter worth. 

"What do 3^011 mean by that?" I asked. 

"I think that this army is getting ready for a move." 

"Why," I replied, "they said that this was to be our 
winter quarters and that we would remain in camp here 
till the weather got better. I don't think we are likely 
to make a move for some time yet. ' ' 

"You remember what a time they had getting the 
wagons and artillery through that mud before," said 
Butterworth. "Well, they are making better arrange- 
ments this time. Those bridges are so that the wagons 
can be got across better. I tell you they would never 
have built them if they did not intend to make a start. 
If we were to remain here some time longer they would 
wait till the water went down and then ford the creek." 

"That looks reasonable," I replied. "But what is 
the sense of changing our position now? We have got 
as good a place to camp in for the winter as we could 
find anywhere. They certainly would not be so foolish 
as to start a campaign with the roads in their present 
condition, would they?" 

"I shouldn't think so," replied Butterworth. "I 


don't see what they could do if they did make a start, 
for they couldn't get far anyhow. But there is no tell- 
ing what they won't do. And I tell you I helieve those 
bridges are not being built for nothing. If Ave are not 
ordered to pack up our knapsacks and get out of here 
very soon, I'm greatly mistaken in my guess." 

John Butterworth was a pretty good guesser. He 
had a habit of putting this and that together and com- 
ing, by a sort of intuition he possessed, pretty near the 
truth. In less than twenty-four hours we received 
orders to pack knapsacks and get ready for a march. 

I don't think we ever received this order less joyfully. 
We had the most comfortable log house we had ever 
occupied. There was plenty of wood and an abundant 
supply of excellent water. It was an ideal spot for 
winter quarters, and we had come to the happy conclu- 
sion that we were sure of having a comfortable place to 
remain till the spring weather made going better. 

But there's no rest for the soldier. No sooner does 
he think that he is settled for a while and proceed to 
make himself as comfortable as possible under the cir- 
cumstances than along comes that relentless order to 
"Fall in for march." 

We started early in the morning of the 19th of Jan- 
uary, 1863. We bade adieu to our comfortable house 
and our cozy camp with genuine regret. We were off for 
no one knew where. "Anudder schlaughter haus," 
John Ick said. 

We had not gone a great distance before the skies be- 
came overcast, and the gathering clouds in the east 
betokened the approach of a great storm. But soldiers do 
not stop for storms. 

Under ordinary circumstances I might not have men- 
tioned the fact of the approaching storm here, for I have 
already described several storms in the front. But this 
storm was one that has gone into history. It has ever 
since been referred to as one of the events of the day. 

It didn't rain right away, however. Great bodies 
move slowly. Great storms usually come up deliber- 
ately. In fact the length of time a storm takes in mak- 
ing preliminary operations, as a general rule, is indica- 
tive of its duration and severity. We marched through 


Dumphries, a place that had just been occupied by- 
General Siegel's corps, and went into camp on the fur- 
ther side of the town, near a little stream called Quan- 
tico creek. 

In the night the threatened storm broke loose. And 
such a storm ! The rain came down literally in torrents. 
The "pup" tents were of no more use than so many 
sieves. They were called "shelter tents," but they were 
anything else than a shelter on that occasion. We spent 
the night standing up or walking around, on the prin- 
ciple that a man erect affords less surface to be exposed 
to the rain than a man lying down. Besides the water 
was apparently two or three inches deep on the ground, 
so that we might as well have undertaken to go to bed 
in a bath tub. 

There was not a man who was not drenched to the 
skin. If we had been thrown into the river we could 
not have been more thoroughly soaked. The wood was 
so saturated that it was impossible to build a fire in the 
morning, and we consequently had to go without our 
much-needed hot coffee. The wet clothes, saturated 
knapsacks and other things almost doubled the load we 
had to carry. But all this made no difference. The 
relentless march was ordered to proceed. 

We had not gone far before we were compelled to 
throw away our woolen blankets and other things, 
which were so saturated with water as to be useless, 
and the weight was more than we could carry. And 
here it was in the dead of winter at that ! The loss of 
the blankets unquestionably meant suffering for us 
when night came, but we could not help that. There 
was no alternative. 

The mud had become deeper than ever, and the tramp 
of so many thousand feet made it sticky and mushy. 
We floundered around, seemingly aimlessly, for awhile 
and finally came to the banks of another creek, which 
we were expected to cross to get to where we were going, 
wherever that might be. 

Here another obstacle was encountered. The rain 
had swollen the creek several times its usual height, so 
that it could not be forded. Fortunately some big trees 
were growing in the neighborhood and these were felled 


and dragged to the creek and thrown across. This in- 
volved no end of labor and consumed a good deal of 

It took five or six hours to get the infantry across on 
the rough bridge that had been completed, but then it 
was found that it was impossible to get the artillery and 
baggage wagons over. So there was another delay. 
The bridge had to be made more perfect for the wheeled 

A row of logs was laid across the timbers of the 
bridge and the tops hewed off, till it formed a sort of 
corduroy road. The artillery was then brought across 
on this structure, but here another trouble was experi- 
enced. The wheels of the heavy cannons only mixed 
up the mud on the other side of the creek, till it became 
impossible to pull the artillery through, no matter how 
many horses and mules there might be harnessed up. 

It is no exaggeration to state that the mud was above 
the hubs of both the cannon wheels and those of the 
wagons and ambulances. But a small portion had got 
across when everything came to a dead halt. Not a 
wheel could be moved. The army of the Potomac was 
stuck in the mud ! 

For four days we labored there trying to get out of 
the mire. Every soldier had to take his turn at the 
wheels of the wagons and cannons, trying to help push 
them through, but in those four days not more than two 
miles were made. 

Then the infantry, of which we were a part, were 
ordered to cut loose, and we were marched off in another 
direction, and after a long and tedious tramp, or rather 
I should say "wallow," we finally reached Stafford 
Court House, completely exhausted. It was several 
days later before the artillery got out of their mud hole. 
They were stuck fast in the mire when they should have 
been shooting the big guns at the enemy. 

Of course we did not appreciate at the time what all 
this movement meant, but we found out afterward that 
General Burnside had commenced a second attack on 
Fredericksburg, and this was just what that was. One 
would think that after the first terrible repulse Burn- 
side had received at Fredericksburg he would have 


hesitated before trying it again, or at least waited till 
the weather was suitable. But he didn't. He tried it 
at a time when it was not fit for an army to march, let 
alone engage in a battle with a fortified enemy, and the 
result was another disaster. 

This was the affair that has gone into history as the 
"second Fredericksburg campaign." Not a shot was 
fired. Instead of engaging the enemy we were stuck 
fast in the mud, not far from Dumphries. As said, 
history calls it "the second Fredericksburg campaign." 

The boys forever after called it "the mud march." 

To this day you never hear an old soldier speak of 
that affair without calling it by its natural and appro- 
priate title of "Mud March." 

That event settled the career of General Burnside. 
Immediately after that he was relieved from the com- 
mand of the Army of the Potomac. 




General Burnside was right when he said, on 
somewhat reluctantly assuming command of the Army 
of the Potomac, that he did not consider himself quali- 
fied for the position. He had been one of the best corps 
commanders in the army. When ordered by the com- 
manding general to perform a certain duty he always 
did it, and did it well. But when it came to commanding 
a big army himself, and originating the movements as 
well as executing them, he was an utter failure. 

The historian therefore must not blame General 
Burnside for what he did not do. He was not qualified 
for the position of commander and knew it, and he 
should never have been appointed. But his service in 
other respects in the army and his subsequent brilliant 
career in congress more than offset all his shortcomings 
as a commanding general. 

General Hooker, who succeeded Burnside, was an 
entirely different sort of a man. Among the soldiers 
he always went by the sobriquet of "Fighting Joe." 
He was a dashing, courageous man, one born to com- 
mand. Tho soldiers liked him and had the most im- 
plicit confidence in his ability and judgment. The only 
fault with General Hooker was that he was not exactly a 
representative of the total abstinence party. Not to 
mince words, he used to get gloriously drunk. 

Truth compels the statement, I regret to say, that if 
this were a disqualification, there would not have been 
many men left in the army to command it. General 
Howard on the Union side and General Stonewall Jack- 
son on the part of the Confederates, are the only ones 
credited with having gone through the war without 
touching intoxicating liquors. There may have been 


others, and probably were, but these are the only ones 
I ever heard of. I am merely mentioning it as about 
the only thing that could be raised against General 
Hooker as being a proper general to be placed in com- 
mand of the Army of the Potomac. 

The common soldiers did not care for that, however. 
They all liked General Hooker, and the result of his ap- 
pointment was immediately noticeable. The men had 
become discouraged and downhearted with the repeated 
failures and defeats, the senseless marches and seeming- 
ly meaningless maneuvers and they hailed with delight 
the advent of a commander who, they believed, would 
put an end to this sort of work. 

The effects of the improvements resulting from the 
orders given by the new commander were apparent 
throughout the army. Desertions, which had again be- 
come alarmingly frequent, the executions at Leesburg 
having become by this time almost forgotten, were at 
once stopped, and the discipline of the army generally 
was otherwise improved in a thousand different ways. 

General Hooker began to manifest a hitherto un- 
known regard for the individual comfort of the troops. 
He issued orders that did away with many of the exist- 
ing abuses and in some way managed to in fuse a degree 
of life and vigor among them such as had never been 
known before. The cavalry had hitherto been a sort of 
go-as-you-please attachment of the army, confined to 
squadrons or regiments, and attached to no regular 
branch or department more extensive. He organized 
them into brigades and divisions, the same as the in- 
fantry, and soon made them a most important branch of 
the service. 

It is perfectly safe to make the statement that before 
the advent of General Hooker none of the commanders 
had much of an idea of the use of the cavalry anyhow. 
They were used without system or order, and seemed 
merely to exist because it had been the custom from 
time immemorial to have such a thing as cavalry in an 
army. General Hooker, however, changed all this, and 
from that time on the cavalry were made to understand 
that they constituted a most important department of 
the army. 


The gallant General Phil Kearny, whose death at 
Chantilly has been before referred to, was a great friend 
and associate of Hooker before the former's death. 
One of Kearny's pet schemes was the idea of adopting 
corps badges, after the French idea. He had something 
of the kind for his own corps, but never lived to see it 
adopted by the army generally. It. is generally sup- 
posed that General McClellan was the originator of the 
corps badge idea, but as a matter of fact it was General 
Kearny who originated it, and General Hooker who 
carried it into effect. 

Kemembering the pet idea of his old friend Kearny 
and being impressed with its utility, General Hooker 
decided to adopt it for the entire army immediately 
after his assumption of command. The corps badges 
from that time on became a distinguishing mark and 
their usefulness was proven 6n more than one occasion. 

The badges for the officers were generally made of 
velvet with a border of gold braid, like the shoulder 
straps. Those of the men were cut out of a piece of 
cloth or flannel. The shape of the badges designated 
the corps, and the color the division of the corps. This 
designation was not subdivided down so low as bri- 
gades. All these badges were worn on the top of the 
forage caps, or in the front of the hat, if it were of 
slouch pattern. 

Take the Twelfth corps for instance. Its badge was 
a five-pointed star. If red, it indicated the First Divis- 
ion. If white, it meant the Second Division, and blue 
was the color indicative of the Third Division. There 
were seldom more than three divisions in a corps, nor 
more than three brigades in a division. 

No matter where an officer or soldier might be, the 
badge not only indicated what corps he belonged to, 
but even the division. The officers could therefore see 
the command of any man, and the men could the more 
readily discover friends and associates, for it must not 
be imagined that every soldier knew every other soldier, 
even of his own corps or division, by his face. Thes o 
corps badges were, so to speak, the signboards for both 
officers and privates in the army, and they were one of 
the most useful things ever concocted. That this is so, 


may be inferred from the fact that ever since the war of 
the rebellion in this country the corps badge has been 
regularly adopted in the army of every civilized country 
on the face of the globe. 

For further information of the unmilitary reader I 
will give a list of the corps badges of the army, viz. : 

First corps, a lozenge, or "full moon," as the boys 
called it. 

Second corps, a trefoil, but more commonly desig- 
nated as the ace of clubs or the clover leaf. 

Third corps, a diamond, the badge of Kearny's old 

Fourth corps, a triangle. 

Fifth corps, a Maltese cross. 

Sixth corps, a Greek cross. 

Seventh corps, a star and crescent. 

Eighth corps, a six-pointed star. 

Ninth corps, a shield, anchor and cannon. 

Tenth corps, a sort of diamond cross. 

Eleventh corps, a crescent, or more commonly called 
by the boys, "new moon." 

Twelfth (and afterward Twentieth) corps, a five-cor- 
nered star. 

Thirteenth corps (there was never a Thirteenth corps). 

Fourteenth corps, an acorn. 

Fifteenth corps, a cartridge box in a square. 

Sixteenth corps, a circular cross, made by taking a 
First corps badge and cutting four small wedges out of 
it, from which some of the soldiers called it "pie." 

Seventeenth corps, an arrow. 

Eighteenth corps, a sort of scolloped-edged diamond. 

Nineteenth corps, an ornamentally shaped Maltese 

Twentieth corps, same as the Twelfth. The Twen- 
tieth corps was composed of the consolidation of the 
Eleventh and Twelfth when they were transferred to 
General Sherman's Army of the Cumberland, and the 
Twelfth corps badge was adopted, the "new moon" of 
the Eleventh being discarded. 

Twenty-first corps. This corps was disbanded before 
the badges were adopted. 

Twenty -second corps, a five-armed cross. 


Twenty -third corps, a shield. 

Twenty-fourth corps, a heart. 

Twenty-fifth corps, a diamond inside of a square. 

Potomac cavalr} r corps, crossed swords, surrounded by 
lines representing the rays of the sun. 

Wilson's cavalry, a badge containing crossed sword3 
and suspended from a miniature carbine. 

Engineering corps, a rather elaborate badge, consist- 
ing of a scroll, surmounted with a castle, underneath 
which was an anchor and pair of oars. 

Signal corps, a torch, flanked with a couple of "wig- 
wag" flags. In the army this corps was alwaj T s re- 
ferred to as the "wig-waggers," as they are in the New 
York militia to-day. 

I have given all the corps badges here as a matter of 
information, not only for the readers of this generally, 
but for the old soldiers as well. I do not believe that 
there are ten per cent, of the men who served m the 
army who ever saw a complete list of these badges 
before this. They were only acquainted with those of 
their immediate army. The Arm 3- of the Potomac 
comprised the First, Second, Third, Fifth, Sixth, 
Eleventh and Twelfth Corps and these badges are per- 
haps very familiar to the veterans living hereabout. 
Those residing in the West will be more familiar with 
some of the others. 

Of course General Hooker had nothing to do with any 
of the soldiers except those in the Army of the Potomac, 
but the other generals, hearing of it, thought well of it 
and so adopted the badge system also, until it spread 
over the entire army of the Union. 

It is singular that there never was a Thirteenth corps 
in the armj", and consequently no badge for that num- 
ber. It is said that this was on account of there being 
a superstition against the number thirteen. This rule 
did not apply to regiments, however, and it is a note- 
worthy fact that those bearing the alleged unlucky 
number turned out protty lucky after all, comparatively 
speaking. Take the Thirteenth New Jersey, for instance. 

There was a Twenty-first corps once, but it was con- 
solidated with the Fourth and some others before the 
badges were adopted, and never rehabilitated. 


I might mention the fact right here that there was 
never a Company J in the infantry of our army, and this 
rule holds good to the present day, not only in the armies 
of the United States, but of other countries of the world. 
One reason for this, it is said, is that a J is so like an I 
that the two get mixed in making out the reports. But 
the better and more probable reason is in the fact that 
at the time, centuries ago, when they began to enumer- 
ate companies by letters, there was no letter J in the 

Regiments of infantry seldom if ever have more than 
ten companies, which only runs down to the letter K. 
In the cavalry and artillery, however, I have seen com- 
panies way down to L and M. 

But to return to the story. 




Some of the boys kicked at the adoption of the corps 
badges. It was to have been expected. They would 
have kicked at anything under the sun. Had an officer 
come along with an honorable discharge for every one 
of them, I really believe that two-thirds would have 
kicked because they had been discharged without hav- 
ing asked for it. 

As before stated somewhere, a soldier's efficiency was 
indicated to a large degree by the vigor of his strength 
in kicking. And with this as a standard of excellence, 
it can never be gainsaid that the Thirteenth Regiment 
of New Jersey Volunteers was one of the very best regi- 
ments in the army of the Union. 

"Well, what is your objection to the badge, John?" 
I asked Ick, who was one of the most vigorous objectors 
to the new insiguia. "Isn't that pretty red star an ad- 
dition to your make-up?" 

"I don't want some make-ups, what you callem," he 
answered. "I don't like dot alretty. Dot vas nottings 
else under ein bull's-eyes. Dot vas for dose rebbels to 
shoot mit, ain't it." 

"Shut ye'r blarney," interrupted Ready Mahar. 
"D'ye ivver s'pose ye will venture close enough to the 
innemy for 'em to see that little sthar on yer cap? 
How's the rebels ter see the sthar wid yer head forninst 
a rubber blanket, Oid loike to know?" 

"Who vas dot hides his head alretty under dot rub- 
ber blankets, Reddy?" demanded Ick, getting angry. 

"Ye did, ye spalpeen," replied Reddy. 

"Ven do I dot?" 

"At An-tee-tam." 


" Who did?" 

"Ye did." 

''Who told you dot?" 

"Ivverybody. And faith, an' didn't Oi see ye me- 

"Den vot vas you doing there your own selluf, 
alretty, eh?" 

It wasn't often that Ick got the better of the ready 
witted Irishman on a repartee, but he did this time. 
As will be remeaibered, Ick was discovered at the bat- 
tle of Antietam hiding under a rubber blanket, where 
he was found and dragged out by Sergeants Wells and 
Van Orden. Reddy started to taunt Ick about this, but 
Ick had turned the tables on Mahar by demanding to 
know what he was doing there to see it. 

While Reddy was always ready to make a joke at the 
expense of John Ick, he didn't like to have it turned on 
himself, and this turn of the tables made him hopping 
mad, and he completely forgot himself. 

"I didn't say Oi was there meself," said Reddy un- 
blushingly. "I said that everybody said that you hid 
ye'rself forninst the rubber blanket while the foightin' 
was goin' on, and ye can't deny it, that's phwat ye 

"You just said you vas there und see me under dot 
blanket, under you vas notting but em liars all the 
times. Don'd he vas said so, fellers?" (addressing the 
crowd. ) 

We had to corroborate John in this instance. He 
had Reddy foul and no mistake. JSTow when Mahar 
was cornered he always wanted to settle the matter with 
a fight, and he quickly came to the conclusion then and 
there that the only way he could retrieve his mistake 
was to give John Ick a trouncing. 

Off went his coat and hat, and he spat on his hands 
ready for the fray. Ick was in a good humor over the 
way it had turned out, and made no attempt at self- 
defense. Mahar began berating him for being a cow- 
ard, and the words were becoming loud and angry when 
suddenly Captain Hopkins put in an appearance. 

Now Captain Hopkins was a man who never lost his 
dignity, and he had the respect of every member of 


Company K to that extent that every one was on his 
good behavior when he was around. The incipient 
fracas was therefore ended as if by magic. Mahar 
slowly pat on his coat and hat again, and Ick went to 
his tent a moment afterward. 

Captain Hopkins stood there like a statue, looking at 
the crowd without saying a word. But everybody knew 
what sort of a man he was, and soon the crowd was dis- 
persed quietly and orderly as if it was a handful of 
snow melting under the rays of the sun. I was one of 
the last to remain. 

"Come up to my tent, Joe," said the captain. "I 
have some writing for you to do." 

I went. But there was no writing of importance, 
only a letter or so, the order having been given me sim- 
ply to get me to the captain's headquarters. 

"What was the trouble down there?" asked Captain 

"Oh, nothing to speak about," I replied. "Only a 
few words between Ick and Mahar. It didn't amount 
to anything. ' ' 

"Those fellows are always quarreling and fighting, 
are they not?" asked the captain. 

"It doesn't amount to anything, captain," I replied. 
"They are the best friends in the world." 

"They certainly have a strange way of showing it," 
said the captain. "But then they are both pretty good 
soldiers. I don't suppose we can repress the exuberance 
of such fellows." 

"Not unless you kill them," I replied laughingly. 

"Then I guess we will have to stand it," replied 
Captain Hopkins, "at least for a while. The Lord 
knows they may get killed soon enough." 

"Why, do you think we are likely to get into another 
fight soon?" I asked, somewhat nervously. 

"Not right away," was the reply. "But when we 
do make a start I think it will be something big. We 
have got "Fighting Joe" over us now, and you probably 
know what that means. From what I hear I don't 
think there will be any more fighting till spring opens, 
but when it does happen it will be a big battle, and I 
think a decisive one. I think General Hooker intends 
that the next fight shall settle the whole thing," 


"But you don't think this will happen soon?" I asked 
again. I did not like to hear this matter-of-fact talk 
about a tremendous battle that was going to "settle the 
whole thing." There was altogether too much sugges- 
tiveness about its settling me at the same time. 

"No," replied the captain. "As I said before, I 
think we will remain somewhere about this neighbor- 
hood till the winter weather is over. We have had two 
campaigns this winter and both have resulted disas- 
trously, and I don't think that anything more of that 
sort will be attempted. But General Hooker is making- 
preparations and trying to improve the army in a man- 
ner that was never tried before, and I think his idea is 
to have it in readiness for a supreme effort." 

"I suppose that you, being an officer, have a chance 
to hear all about these things, captain. You know that 
everything is blind to us men. "We don't know what 
anything is for, but merely obey orders and follow like 
so many sheep wherever ordered." 

"There could be no discipline if it were otherwise," 
replied the captain. "If the men always knew where 
they were going, they would sometimes weaken. It is 
a part of the science of war to make the rank and file 
as much of a machine as possible. I cannot see how 
there could be a successful army otherwise." 

"But I think it would be better if the men did know 
some of these things sometimes," I replied. "I believe 
that the result would be better and that the men would 
act more willingly and do more to carry out the move- 
ment if they were treated more as intelligent men in- 
stead of, as you say. part of a mere machine." 

"That is a common idea," said the captain. "But it 
would not work. When you get older and have more 
experience you will understand this matter better than 
you do now. I can see very plainly why it is better to 
keep the rank and file in as much ignorance as possi- 

"I think it is cruel — at least from my standpoint," 
said I. When together in the privacy of the captain's 
tent we were quite friendly, and our difference in 
rank was forgotten. The captain went further in 
this respect than he probably would, because I never 


took advantage of it. I knew my station. When I 
was outside of the tent, or when there was any one else 
present, I was as quiet and humble as the lowest soldier 
in the company. This was a trait that the captain 
liked and appreciated and he thought more of me for it. 
When we had these little conversations we were 
only two American citizens on a level footing. When 
we were outside, I was a private, he a captain. 

"So you think it is cruel?" said the captain, half- 
musingly. "Well, perhaps it is. But tell me, Joe, if 
yon can, what there is about war that is not cruelty?" 

This was a poser. War and cruelty are synonymous. 

"But you are mistaken," added the captain, "about 
my knowing much more about what is going on than 
you do. Captains are kept in nearly as much ignorance 
of general movements as the men. Even the colonel 
does not know what is going ou till he is ordered to do 
something, and all that he has to do is to obey the order 
without asking any questions. The commanding gen- 
eral and his corps commanders perhaps are the only ones 
who really know the why and wherefore of everything. 
But then some things do leak out, nevertheless. We 
hear little things here and there, and put them together 
and form our own conclusions, and sometimes they turn 
out right — sometimes not." 

"Then you are only inferring from what you see that 
General Hooker's intentions are something like you 
have said?" 

"That's all, Joe," replied he. "But I guess you will 
find out that it will come out about that way. The 
nest battle we get into will be one of the hardest ever 
fought, but it will not take place till the winter is en- 
tirely over. You may depend upon that." 

For this respite I felt grateful, but I did not give the 
captain any intimation of my feelings just then. 

"Don't say anything to any of the men of what I 
have said to you," said the captain, as I turned to leave. 

"I will not," I said. "I think you understand me 
well enough." 

"I do," was his answer. "Otherwise I would not be 
so free with yon, only a private." 

"Only a private," I repeated with a touch of irony. 


"I never thought of it before," said Captain Hopkins. 
"You deserve something better. Would you like to be 
a corporal?" 

A corporal? A non-commissioned officer? I hesi- 
tated at the temptation over the possible promotion. 

"Would it deprive me of my place as company clerk?" 
I asked. 

"Yes, I am not allowed to detail a non-commissioned 
officer for that purpose. I can only use a private for 
that. And I don't know whom else I could take that 
Avould suit me as well, after all." 

"How about Jimmy Post?" I asked. 

"Post? He's a good man, but — but I'd rather have 
you, for several reasons." 

"That settles it, captain," said I. "I would rather 
be your secretary than wear the two stripes of a cor- 

"Thank you," said the captain. "That's compli- 
mentary, and I'll not forget it." 

"When I go for anything, captain," said I, "it will 
be for something higher than a corporal." I had cer- 
tain ambitions, and I threw this out as a feeler. 

"All right," replied Captain Hopkins. "When the 
time comes, you can depend on me for anything you 
want. ' ' 

I left the captain's tent in more than a good humor, 
and I remembered the captain's kind promise and months 
afterward took advantage of it. He faithfully kept his 

But of that later. I will say, however, that the time 
did come when I did wear a shoulder strap and carry a 
commission signed by the President of the United 
States, and Captain Hopkins was largely influential in 
the achievement of that much desired result. 




It was on the 24th of January when the Thirteenth 
Regiment went into camp at Fairfax Court House, if 
my memorandum of the date is correct. A thickly 
wooded pine forest was selected as the site for the camp, 
and there was an abundant supply of water. It was in 
every respect as good a place for the camp as the one we 
had left before the "mud march." 

"Well, John," said I to my pard, "here we are 
again, and I suppose the best thing we can do is to build 
another house." 

"I don't see much sense in it, Joe," replied he; "we 
seem to be doiug nothing but building houses and mov- 
ing out of them again. As soon as we get nicely settled 
then along comes that confounded order to fall in for a 
march. What's the use of it? Why not make our- 
selves as comfortable as possible without going to all 
the trouble?" 

"Bat we are likely to stay here now till the winter is 
over," I replied, "and we might as well make ourselves 

"What makes you think we will remain here any 
time?" asked John. 

"Well, I just think so," I replied. I did not want 
to tell him what Captain Hopkins had told me confi- 
dentially, but I gave him to understand that I had good 
reason to believe that we would remain in that camp for 
a while. 

"You do seem to find out things somehow," said 
John, "and if you say we are likely to stay here for 
a while I will take some stock in it. If you say so we 
will begin on the new house at once." 

"I think we had better," was my only response, 


Butterworth fell in with my suggestion. Somehow I 
was always the dominant spirit of our partnership — the 
"head of the house," so to speak. We got axes and 
saws and started out into the woods, where we found 
nearly all the other members of the regiment engaged 
in gathering material for the construction of their primi- 
tive residences. 

It took a couple of days to complete our log house, 
and when done it was the largest and best that we had 
ever had. It was fortunate that we took so much pains 
with it, for, as prophesied, it was our abode for a consid- 
erable time to come, and we passed many pleasant 
hours in it. 

We had plenty to do while in that camp in a military 
sense. There was no end to the drilling and other ma- 
neuvering. I was excused from company drill by rea- 
son of being the company clerk, but there was no end of 
regimental and brigade drilling. The constant fear of 
being raided by the enemy's cavalry made the officers 
pay especial attention to a peculiar formation specially 
intended as a defense against attacks from that branch 
of the opposing army. 

This was technically called "forming into a hollow 
square." The title indicates the character of the for- 
mation. The regiment was formed in a square, four 
deep, which made it look like a human fence around 
a vacant lot. I said "vacant,'' but that is hardly cor- 
rect, for there was something always inside the square 
■ — the officers. The enlisted men formed the fence or 
wall inside of which the commissioned officers were 
comparatively secure. 

All the rifles were equipped with bayonets. The 
outer edge of men knelt on one knee and held the rifle 
with the bayonet sticking cut at an angle of about 
forty-five degrees. Behind them, stood another row of 
men at a charge bayonet. This made a double row of 
glistening bayonets sticking toward the suppositious 
enemy, like a chevaux cle frise. The two inner rows 
of men were there ready to shoot their guns over the 
heads of the men in front. 

These hollow squares were supposed to be invincible. 
And so far as an attack of cavalry was concerned they 


were practically so. No troop of horses could stand or 
run against that array of bayonets if the men only stood 
to their posts. But the trouble was that it took some time 
to get the men to understand this. When they saw a 
whole company of horsemen galloping toward them, 
the natural instinct was to get out of the way, and even 
in the practice attacks that we had it was seldom that 
the men all stood their ground. 

Useful as this precautionary drill was, however, we 
never had occasion to use it in actual warfare. The 
Thirteenth Regiment, so far as I ever heard, never was 
attacked by cavalry at a time when they were in a hol- 
low square. 

Another drill that we had was called "bayonet drill." 
This was a pet scheme of Major Grimes, who seemed to 
always imagine that the regiment would some time get 
into a hand-to-hand conflict with the enemy, and that it 
would be a good thing to know just exactty how to stick 
the sharp end of the bayonet through the enemy's intes- 
tines, give it a sort of corkscrew twist, and then be 
able to complacently contemplate the sight of a rebel 
writhing in death agony on the ground. 

With that, the "guard," and "tierce," and "parry," 
and other things, and the jumping sideways and for- 
wards and backwards, it would be hard to imagine any 
more vigorous sort of exercise than the bayonet drill. 
We were put through it day after day, till every man 
became a sort of an athlete of the high jumping variety. 

This was only a silly waste of time. Perhaps every 
regiment in the army had to go through the experiment 
at one time or another, but it was finally dropped as 
useless. It is unnecessary to state that very seldom did 
the two armies come close enough together to indulge 
in the interesting pastime of making holes in each 
other's anatomy. And even if they had, under the ex- 
citing circumstances it is not likely that any man would 
ever have remembered the first thing about the scien- 
tific instructions he had received in the best way of 
doing it. 

The worst experience I ever had while at this place 
was to be detailed one day to go out and build a cordu- 
roy road. A corduroy road is made by placing felled 


trees side by side along the road, like the planking on a 
bridge. This made a pretty rough sort of a thorough- 
farefand the wagons went bumping over it at a fearful 
rate', while as for marching over it, it was something- 
terrible. But it was better than deep mud at that. 

Now I had never cut down a tree in my life. When 
we were building log houses John Butterworth did the 
felling and I helped in other ways. But this day I was 
given an ax and set to work cutting down trees. 
3 The first two or three went all right, although I was 
always in a quandary as to which way the confounded 
thing was going to fall. All that I could do was to 
wait till it began to move and then scamper out of the 
way. Some of the fellows knew how to make the tree 
fall in any direction they desired, but that was a mys- 
tery utterly beyond my comprehension. My trees fell 
whither they wisted, and they generally wisted to fall 
in a manner that threatened the life of some of the other 
fellows who did not see the thing coming in their direc- 

The first two or three were small trees, not over six or 
seven inches in diameter. 

But then the confounded officer in command of the 
work took it into his head that larger trees were indis- 
pensable, and he set me to work on one at least three 
feet thick, a tremendous fellow. It was a tall pine, and 
the wood seemed to be extraordinarily hard and tough, 
while my ax appeared to be as dull as a hoe. 

I contemplated the job with discouragement, but went 
to work with a will. I never could see what fun Glad- 
stone could find in cutting down trees. There isn't 
much to amuse a man in England if he calls that fun. 

I hacked and hacked. I cut on one side and a while 
on the other, trying to see which side of the tree was 
the softest. My hands, unaccustomed to such work, 
became covered with blisters, my arms and legs ached, 
and the sweat poured from me in a stream, notwith- 
standing the fact of its being midwinter. At the end 
of two hours I had not succeeded in making more than 
a shallow ridge in the tree, hardly enough to have set 
the sap running. 

Then I gave up in disgust. I called the sergeant and 


told him there was no use of my trying to cut down that 
tree. I never did such a thing before, and told him 
that it would take six months for me to get that tree 
down, and I felt sure that when it did come down it 
would kill somebody, for I had no idea as to which way 
it would fall. 

The sergeant took pity on me and told me to take a 
rest. He called another man, a tall fellow from the 
Wisconsin regiment, a backwoodsman who had been 
accustomed to that sort of work. 

"Which way do you want this tree to fall, sergeant?" 
he asked. 

"Right about here," said the non-commissioned 
officer, marking the place in the ground with his foot. 

I was filled with admiration. Here was a man who 
could not only cut down a tree but who could make it 
fall just where he wanted it to fall. And he did so. It 
seemed but a few moments, with a remarkably few dex- 
terous blows with the ax, that the tree was nearly cut 
through. The wood seemed a good deal softer and the 
ax much sharper for that man than it had been for me, 

Finally the tree wavered, moved and fell. It came 
down almost exactly where the sergeant had marked 
the place for it to fall. This was the difference between 
a man used to the work of cutitng down a tree and one 
who had never had any experience in that sort of thing. 
But I was willing to bet a day's rations of hard-tack 
that I could beat that man setting type. 

I didn't have to cut any more trees. They set me to 
work helping to carry them and at other things, till 
night came, and I went back to camp probably more 
tired out and generally used up than I had ever been 
before. I begged the captain that he would never let 
me be detailed for such a service again, as I was never 
calculated for that kind of work. Captain Hopkins did 
not know that I had been sent to do that sort of labor, 
and he laughed at my description of the ordeal. But 
ho saw to it that I never had anj'thing like it again, and 
truth compels me to state that Company K escaped the 
most of that sort of menial labor. 

Of course there came times, in the face of a battle, 


when every man, and sometimes some of the officers, had 
to come to the rescue and assist in the hurried construc- 
tion of breastworks. On such occasions, however, a 
sort of feeling that it was necessary for personal safety 
overcame the repugnance to such labor. 

These things are described because they are legiti- 
mately a part of the life of a soldier. The men in the 
army had something else to do besides shooting at the 
enemy and reducing the number of Confederate soldiers. 

The paymaster was long a-coming in those days. 
We were months behind with our pay. The most of us 
had gone to the fullest extent in running credit at the 
sutler's, and we missed the little luxuries that we had 
been accustomed to get there. One day there was a 
good deal of mysterious consultation and whispering 
around camp, which for some time I could not get the 
hang of. But after a while the other fellows took me 
into their confidence and let me into the scheme. 

The sutler had just laid in a new stock. His counters 
were piled high with all sorts of tempting dainties. In 
the rear part of the tent we even saw many bottles of 
whiskey and other things that made the boys' mouths 
water, for "it had been a long time between drinks." 
Perhaps had there been plenty of it within reach I 
would never have thought of such a thing, but now that 
it was practically impossible to get, the more I thought 
of it the more it seemed as if a good horn of the real old 
stuff would be just about the thing. 

The scheme was nothing more or less than to make a 
midnight raid on the sutler's tent and help ourselves to 
the first things within reach. 

Butterworth, my pard, did not altogether approve of 
the idea, but he was overruled, and there were enough 
of us without him to carry the thing through. The 
plan was for about twenty of us to wait for a signal, 
and simultaneously sneak out in the middle of the night, 
and then raid the tent of the sutler. I'll admit that I 
was one of the twenty midnight prowlers, and burglars, 
if 3 r ou will. The others were all in it in a secondary 
sense. That is, they were to keep watch, give what- 
ever alarm might be necessary, and afterward partake 
of the booty. 


Midnight came, and I quietly sneaked out and walked 
softly to the sutler's tent. I found the others there and 
ready for the depredation. 

The leader of the gang gave the signal, and the attack 




The plan had been to cut the ropes that braced up the 
tent, on all sides at once, so that the whole business 
would come down together and then make the raid on 
the good thing3 there concealed. 

Usually the sutler and hi.; assistants slept in the back 
part of the tent and we supposed that they were there 
this time. Our plan had been to grab the things and 
hide them somewhere before the sutlers could extricate 
themselves from the folds of the tent and geb after us. 
We had the places all ready to hide the articles, and we 
were to feign sleep and profess ignorance of the whole 
thing if any officers came around afterward to make 

We were destined to have better luck than this, how- 
ever. For some reasons none of the sutlers were asleep 
in the tent that night. The cords were cut simulta- 
neously on all sides and the tent came down with a flop 
in a heap, just as expected. It is hardly necessary to 
state that what we were after was the whiskey, or 
"commissary," as it was called then. We each grabbed 
a bottle of the supposed whiskey and hastened back to 
our log houses, hid the liquor, and fell asleep with a sud- 
denness that would have surprised a hypnotist. 

We waited patiently for the expected alarm, but none 
came. Everything was as quiet as usual. Directly 
some one poked his head in the door of our house and 
said that there was not a sign of life around the sutler's 
tent, and that we might go and help ourselves to what- 
ever else we wanted. We did so, and could scarcely 
find room to hide the purloined goods. 

Then we proceeded to sample the liquor. I didn't 
know exactly at the time what was in the bottle But- 


ter worth and I had, nor did we care, so long as it was 
liquor, but it tasted just like the juice off the mince pre- 
pared for a mince pie. It was nectar! 

But the confounded thing flew to my head, and that 
was the last I remembered till morning, when Orderly 
Sergeant Van Orden stuck in his head and asked how 
it was that we did not turn out for the morning roll 
call. I got up as best I could, for my head was spin- 
ning around like a top. Butterworth had evidently 
taken less, for he was not so badly affected. When we 
got out to the line there were only seven men there. 
There should have been some seventy. Most of the rest 
were really sick. And no wonder, when it is explained 
that the liquor on which we had got boozed was Hos- 
tetter's bitters! 

By some bad luck the captain had taken a notion that 
morning to turn out to see the reveille roll call, and he 
asked how it was that the other men had not turned out. 

"I don't know, captain," replied Hank Van Orden, 
the orderly sergeant. * ' I can't wake them up this morn- 
ing. I don't know what is the matter with them." 

Captain Hopkins stuck his head in one log hut and 
then another. From both he brought an empty bottle. 

"I guess this accounts for it," said he. "What does 
this mean, anyhow?" 

Sergeant Van Orden hadn't been let into the racket, 
and he was in ignorance of what it did mean. He told 
the captain so. 

"The whole company's drunk," said the captain. 
"Where did they get the liquor, I would like to know." 

Just at this moment the adjutant came down. 

"Captain, are any of your men in this?" he asked. 

"In what?" asked Captain Hopkins. 

"In this robbery of the sutler's tent. Don't j-ou see 
that it is down? That isn't the worst of it. There has 
been a robber3 r . Nearly all the liquor there was in the 
tent has been stolen, as well as some other things." 

The captain pointed to the two bottles that he had 
thrown on the ground. 

"That looks somewhat suspicious, doesn't it?" he 

"The colonel will be furious when he hears of this," 


said the adjutant. "There's trouble ahead for all who 
were concerned in it. Try and find out which of your 
men are implicated. " 

I began to shake in my boots, but said not a word. 
I think that I was the last man in the company the cap- 
tain would have suspected, for I was there all right in 
the line for roll call, raid the captain knew that I wasn't 
much of a hand for liquor anyway. 

Well, the captain and orderly sergeant made a search, 
and a partially emptied bottle was found in nearly every 
tent or hut in the company. The sutler must have had 
a big stock on hand, for not only was Company K con- 
cerned, but several of the other companies had been in 
the scheme, and a similar discovery was made there 

Nov/ I never knew how it came out the way it did, 
but as a matter of fact not a single man was punished 
for that night's escapade. In the first place it was 
against the rule for the sutlers to have more liquor or 
"bitters" on hand than just sufficient to be used for 
medical purposes, or perhaps an occasional little "blow 
out" on the part of the officers. Then the sutler we 
had at that time was a mean sort of a fellow, a regular 
Shylock, who took advantage not only of the men, but of 
the officers as well, whenever the opportunit}' offered. 
So he did not have much sympathy as far as that was 
concerned. But be it as it may, none of us were ever 
punished, and not much was said about the matter be- 
yond a little "general order" on dress parade that the 
men should remember that they should act as law abid- 
ing citizens in the army the same as if they were at 
home, and that it was as much of a crime to break into 
a store there and steal as it was in a city. This was 
the only hint, in an official way, that we ever had about 
the matter and it was the nearest that we ever had to a 

Indeed the result was the other way, for the next day 
orders came that the credit at the sutler's would be ex- 
tended, and the door was opened so that we were able 
to get whatever we liked on the strength of the credit of 
future months' pay. So as a matter of fact, instead of 
being punished, we were practically rewarded for the 
part we had taken in the robbery of the sutler's tent. 


They say that there are some kinds of liquor that will 
keep a fellow drunk several days. This must have been 
the sort that we had on that occasion, for it was several 
days before I fully • ecovered from that debauch. I felt 
heartily ashamed of myself, not only for that, but be- 
cause it was the first time I had ever been concerned in 
what might be called a burglary at night. And it was 
the last time I was ever guilty of such a crime. But 
then we were soldiers, and there are few men who served 
in the army that cannot relate some such experience. 

We didn't often get the chance to obtain liquor while 
in the front. Occasionally after great exposure it would 
be dealt out sparingly to the men. I remember one 

It was while we were stationed at Fairfax that we 
went out on one of those mysterious raids or reconnais- 
sances, and we had to ford a creek. The water was up 
to our waists and it was very cold. 

It so happened that we had been much troubled with 
the ^efitiievousj)endi cuius investimenti and the surgeon 
had said that anguinum, or blue ointment, was a good 
thing to kill the nits. We had saturated the seams of 
our clothing with this salve, which is largely composed 
of mercury. 

There is danger in getting wet after using any sort of 
a mercurial ointment, for the result is salivation. This, 
judging from my own personal experience, is one of the 
most horrible sensations. The saliva runs from the 
mouth, the eyes water and the whole body aches ter- 

When we laid ourselves down that night on the wet 
ground, soaked to the skin as we were, the flesh seemed 
too soft to bear the weight of one's bones, and one could 
feel his skeleton from the top of his head to the soles of 
his feet. The sensation is simply horrible. One felt as 
if he were nothing but a skeleton, and every individual 
bone appeared to sink into the soft flesh with a sicken- 
ing pain. 

It was then that the surgeon ordered to be dispensed 
a good ration of "commissary," and if liquor ever did 
a man good It was then and there. 

After being at Fairfax Station for a while the Thir- 


teenth Regiment was ordered to change camp and we 
marched to Stafford Court House, a place that enters 
very largely into the history of the regiment, for it was 
from that place that we went into the greatest engage- 
ment in which the Thirteenth ever participated. 




We were stationed at Stafford Court House from the 
early part of March till near the end of April, and tak- 
ing it altogether it was the quietest time we ever had 
while in the army. It was officially given out that 
there would be no more lighting or marching till the 
spring fairly opened ; and we were in fact in training for 
the arduous campaign of 1863, which, as all will re- 
member, was the turning year of the war. It may be 
truthfully stated that till the middle of 1863 it was a 
grave question which would win, the North or the South. 
England and other foreign countries had manifested a 
strong sympathy for the Confederacy. Peace commis- 
sioners were endeavoring to settle the contest in a man- 
ner that would have left the South the winner. The 
Confederacy appeared to be more desperate and deter- 
mined than ever, and throughout the North there was a 
feeling of despair and a sentiment that the best thing to 
do would be to give up the struggle before more lives 
were sacrificed. 

But the fact that the North meant business was evi- 
dent from the Emancipation Proclamation of President 
Lincoln. That settled all questions of peace. It was 
from that moment "a fight to the finish," with equal 
determination on both sides. No one could foretell the 
result. It was an even contest till Gettysburg, and 
then the tide turned in favor of the North, although it 
took nearly two years after that to finally suppress the 

Many of the men about this time succeeded in obtain- 
ing furloughs. I had the opportunitj T to go home for 
ten days, but did not. Only so many were allowed to 



each company, and I gave up my chance in favor of one 
of the men, who had a sick wife at home. 

I was rather glad that I did so, for all the men came 
back discouraged, downhearted and despairing. They 
had become imbued with the feeling of discouragement 
that prevailed at home, and it was worse coming back 
than the original enlistment, for every soldier, when 
leaving home from his furlough, bade good-by to his 
family with the impression that it was the last time he 
would ever see them. For some of them indeed it was 
the last time ! 

We had not been long at Stafford when several of the 
companies of the Thirteenth were ordered on detached 
service at White House Landing, on Aquia creek. 
There was nothing but a small dock there, where curi- 
ous little stern wheel steamboats landed provisions from 
Washington. Our duties there were to be 'longshore- 
men or stevedores, but Butterworth and I did not go on 
duty the first day. 

We spent the entire day building a log house, and by 
night had a fine one. But we slept in it only one 
night. The next morning we were ordered back to 
camp and another company took our place. I never 
knew why Company K had been returned in this man- 
ner. But I was not sorry for it for one, for the work 
of unloading provisions from the boat and placing them 
in the baggage wagons was laborious. 

Many of the men received boxes from home contain- 
ing quantities of good things, and many of them also 
contained whiskey. This made some of the men drunk, 
and after that all the boxes were inspected by the officers 
before being turned over to the men. Three of the boxes 
contained nothing but whiskey! 

The officers took charge of all this. What they did 
with the liquor history does not tell, but one might 
guess ! 

Another discovery was made by the inspection of 
those boxes. Fully one-third of them contained citi- 
zen's clothes. It looked as if one-third of the recipients 
of favors from home were making preparations to desert. 
In fact there had been a good many desertions before 
this,, and the officers wondered how the men had sue- 


ceeded in getting away without detection. This ex- 
plained the business. After the wholesale confiscation 
of citizens' clothes the desertions were materially 

We had considerable fun in the sporting line while at 
Stafford. Several times we obtained permission to go 
to Aquia creek, where the fishing was good, and we 
caught many shad with the most primitive sort of nets. 
The greatest fun, however, was in shooting ducks. 

I never saw so many wild ducks in my life. The 
river seemed to literally swarm with them. We had 
no shot guns, nor even shot, for that matter, but we got 
around this very nicely by cutting bullets into small 
bits called "slugs," and shooting them from the rifles. 
Indeed Ave became quite expert, shooting the ducks with 
the full sized bullets, although naturally this tore the 
birds to pieces so that they were practically useless. 

The greatest difficulty was in getting the ducks after 
we had shot them out on the river. There were no dogs 
of course, and only one small boat, a sort of dug-out, 
which had to be utilized in turn by the men. A large 
proportion of the ducks consequently were not recovered, 
out we got enough for our own use, and we had duck 
cooked in every possible and impossible style. 

One of our duties at Stafford Court House was to 
erect a gigantic stockade. What this was for I don't 
know. There was no enemy anywhere around at the 
time, and there seemed to be no possibility of there ever 
being an engagement in that neighborhood. But I pre- 
sume that the theory was that if we were kept busy we 
would not get into mischief. 

One day while at Stafford Court House, Captain 
Hopkins came to me and asked me if I didn't want a 
day off? 

"A day off? What do you mean, captain?" asked I, 

"Well, if you do," he replied, "you are at liberty to 
go. Come to my tent and I will give you a pass. You 
will also find a horse there for you." 

A horse for me ! What could the captain mean? 

However, I went up to the captain's tent and sure 
enough there was a horse — two of them, in fact. Both 


were saddled and held by a tall cavalryman with yellow 
trimmed riding jacket and boots. 

"This is Crowell, orderly," said Captain Hopkins by 
way of introduction. The big cavalryman looked at 
me, I imagined not with a very high degree of admira- 
tion. And I didn't look very pretty. I had not had 
mjr hair cut in some time, and looked like a foot ball 
player. I had been sleeping in the dirt so much that I 
presented anything but a tidy appearance. But then I 
was as well fixed as the average soldier. 

"General Stagg presents his compliments," said the 
orderly, "and invites you to come and take dinner with 

General Stagg? For a moment I could not recall 
who that could be. Then I remembered. It was Peter 
Stagg, the brother of my old companion in the Guar- 
dian office, John Stagg, who had enlisted in the 
Eleventh New Jersey — the same John Stagg who is 
to-day the chief of the Paterson Fire* Department. 

I remembered that Peter, who was also a Paterson 
boy, had moved to Michigan when he was married, and 
knew that he had entered the service as a captain in the 
First Michigan Cavalry, but I had not heard that he 
had become a general. 

"Do you mean Peter Stagg, of the First Michigan 
Cavalry?" I asked the orderly. 

"Yes," was the reply. "He was our colonel. He 
has been promoted to brigadier-general. He sent me 
over to bring you to our camp and have dinner with 

"Well, well," said I, in amazement, "and so Peter 
Stagg's a general. And he wants me to come to take 
dinner with him. Well, well!" I couldn't get over 
the surprise. 

"Yes," said the orderly, "and he sent his horse over 
for you to ride. This is the critter." 

I looked at the horse. I hadn't particularly noticed 
the animal before, for I was so astonished that Peter 
Stagg had become a general (and by the way he was the 
only Paterson boy that ever did become a general), that 
I hadn't noticed anything. But when I saw that horse 
I was struck with terror. 


I never had much experience riding horseback. Tak- 
ing my father's docile old nag to water was about the 
extent of my experience in that direction. But here 
before me was a big black stallion, that looked as if he 
could only be ridden by a Buffalo Bill or a cowboy. I 
confess that I weakened. But I didn't want to let the 
cavalryman think I was afraid. 

"Say, pard,'' said I familiarly — and my familiar 
tone at once put me on good terms with my to-be-escort 
— "I am a pretty looking fellow to take dinner with a 
general of cavalry, am I not? I look as if I ought to 
go to the barber's and tailor's before I tackle anything 
like that. I think I had better send my regrets." 

"Oh, that's all right," said the orderly. "You're all 
right. Besides, the general said that I must insist on 
your coming if you could get away, and the captain 
here says that's all right. So come along. Here's 
your horse." 

Again I looked at the skittish looking stallion. Then 
I looked at the tamer looking animal of the orderly, 
which I could distinguish was a private soldier's steed 
from the comparative plainness of its trappings. 

"Hadn't I better ride your horse, orderly?" I asked. 
"He looks less frisky. This stallion here will break 
my neck." 

"No," replied the orderly, "you take the general's 
critter. He is as gentle as a kitten. You couldn't ride 
mine. He is a bucker and would throw you off before 
you got half a mile on the way. ' ' 

"How far is General Stagg's camp from here?" I 

"About twelve miles. It is straight across the coun- 
try. We don't follow the road, but cut across lots. It's 
a good route and a pleasant ride. You will enjoy it, I'm 

"I will if that horse doesn't break my neck," said I, 
"but I suppose I will have to tackle it." 

The boys had begun to gather around, wondering 
what was going on. Some of them envied me the 
chance of the trip. Others I thought regarded me with 
admiration on account of having been honored with an 
invitation to dine with a general. But Stansfield took 
the starch out of me with the remark he made. 


"Say, Joe," said he, "if you get back alive from your 
ride on that horse you're a lucky cuss. I wouldn't get 
on that stallion's back for a farm." 

"Oh, I'm not afraid," I replied, jauntily. But I 
lied; I was scared to death. I nearly fell off with 

We started on our ride, and to tell the truth I never 
expected to survive the journey. 




I hadn't ridden far, however, on General Stagg's 
stallion before I began to feel perfect confidence. A 
nicer saddle horse no man ever strode. But I had to 
take some instructions before I knew how to guide the 

When I pulled the right hand rein he turned to the 
left, and vice versd. Either the horse or I had lost the 

"That horse is trained for the cavalry service," said 
the orderly, "and you have to handle him a little differ- 
ent from what you would a farm horse. Just hold the 
reins together in the left hand. When you want to 
turn to the right, hold your hand over to the right. 
That presses the bridle reins against the left side of the 
horse and makes him go to the right. When j t ou want to 
go to the left you hold the hand o t'er to the left, so that 
the rein presses on the right side. ' ' 

"Then," said I, "you really pull the left side of his 
bit to make him go to the right, and the right side of 
his bit to turn to the left. Is that it?" 

"I s'pose it is," replied my escort. "But cavalrymen 
don't pay any attention to the bit. They drive by 
the rein. The right hand is supposed to be busy with 
carbine or saber, and only the left is used in guiding the 
critter. Now if you want him to lope, give a couple of 
quick jerks upward, and if he is loping and you want a 
gallop, jab in the spurs." 

I hadn't put on the spurs, however. Nothing could 
induce me to do that, or I would have had the horse 
running away in short order. Loping was rapid enough 
for me. 


"If you want to bring him to a walk again," con- 
tinued the orderly, going on with his equestrian instruc- 
tions, "just pull gently on the reins, and a good hard 
pull will bring him to a standstill. That's the way to 
drive the critter with the bridle. But generally we do 
it with our knees." 

"With your knees?" I asked. 

"Yes, we don't bother much with the bridle, for often 
we have both hands busy in a scrimmage. When you 
want to start, give a 'cluck.' When you want the horse 
to lope, press the two knees against his withers two or 
three times, sharply. Do it again if you want him to 
gallop. If you want him to turn to the right, press the 
left knee only. If to the left, press the right knee. If 
you want to stop, press both knees hard." 

I went through all these things and the noble animal 
obeyed like a child — a good deal better than some chil- 
dren, by the way. I never rode, before nor since, such 
a well trained animal. Riding him was like sitting in 
a rocking-chair. I was delighted with the experience, 
for it was not long before I had perfect confidence 
restored, and felt as self-possessed as if I had been rid- 
ing horseback all my life. 

But I was not altogether self possessed for another 
reason. I was overcome with the idea of being tho 
guest of a general officer. Only those who have been in 
the army can appreciate the vast gulf that exists be- 
tween a private and a brigadier-general. 

And a brigadier-general of cavalry was more than a 
brigadier-general of infantry. In army etiquette and 
precedence the cavalry general comes ahead of the in- 
fantry general. And then a brigade of cavalry is as 
big, so far as the ground it covers is concerned and its 
military importance and pomp, as a whole corps of in- 
fantry. There was a peculiar dash and show about a 
high cavalry officer that no infantry commander ever 
attained. And yet, all the way, I couldn't help repeat- 
ing to myself, "Pete Stagg a brigadier -general ! Pete 
Stagg a general?" And the last time I saw him he was 
working at his trade in the locomotive works, if I re- 
membered correctly. 

After a pleasant ride of twelve or fifteen miles, the 


camp of the cavalry brigade commanded by General 
Peter Stagg loomed into sight. 

General Stagg's headquarters were quite pretentious. 
Instead < f a tent it was a good sized barrack made of 
rough boards, the cracks between which were slatted so 
that it afforded perfect protection from the weather. 
The general's brigade was in winter quarters and it was 
the most comfortable and complete thing of the sort I 
ever saw in the front. 

The general came to the doorway of his house as [ 
rode up, and greeted me cordially. Had I also been a 
brigadier-general there could not have been a warmer 
or more friendly welcome. I must confess that I felt a 
little ashamed. I was only a private, with all that im- 
plied, and my clothing was not very creditable for even 
a private. 

On the other hand, the general, who had just been 
superintending some maneuver, was in full uniform, as 
bright and spick as a militia officer, and there was a 
dash and vivacity about his manner that was altogether 
different from the plain mechanic I had remembered in 
Paterson. He was surrounded by a glittering staff of 
colonels and majors and captains, and the scene was so 
dazzling that I felt extremely abashed, to say the least. 

But the cordiality manifested from him of the star to 
the stripeless private was so hearty, and the consequent 
attitude of the officers around him so condescending, as 
I was introduced as "My old friend, Crowell," by the 
general, that I &oon felt at home, and for the time being 
forgot altogether the difference between our ranks. 

I do not altogether remember the details of that day's 
visit. I do remember, however, that we had a good 
dinner — wonderfully good considering the place and cir- 
cumstances — and I was filled with wonder as to where 
they had got all the provisions and delicacies that made 
up the menu. The wind-up of the dinner was a sort of 
punch that was very palatable, but which for a few mo- 
ments made my head swim. That dinner impressed 
me strongly as to the difference between the lobscouse 
of the high privates and the tempting lay-out of the 
general officers. All the while I felt my subordinate 
position keenly, although I tried my best to put my 
brightest and most nonchalant side forward. 


We lingered long at the table, which, by the way, was 
spread in a large barrack back of the general's head- 
quarters, and in which all the officers participated. 
And many were the stories and experiences related, 
which gave an interesting insight to the exciting and 
dangerous life of a cavalryman. Of the stories told, I 
particularly remember one. It was by the general him- 

"It was down on the retreat from the Peninsula," 
said he, "when we were halting as if uncertain whether 
we should continue toward Washington, or go back 
toward Richmond, that we stopped on the way for a few 
days. I met an old friend of mine from another Michi- 
gan regiment, of which he was the colonel, and invited 
him to dinner. Now it happened that we were rather 
short of rations just then, and it was hard to get any- 
thing out of the usual line of provisions. The worst of 
it all was that we had run out of pork entirely. 

"But," continued the general, "my cook had some- 
how managed to get hold of a couple of good cabbages. 
This was something so unusual that I thought a cab- 
bage and pork dinner would be an acceptable novelty 
to my guest. When it was served there were only 
three or four thin slices of pork, which were spread 
around the sides of the dish of cabbage, as a sort of 
garnishment. It made it look very tempting. I won- 
dered where Nick had got that pork, but said nothing. 

"There were half a dozen or so officers at the mess 
that day; when each one was asked if he would have a 
piece of pork, he saw what a small supply there was 
and politely answered no. So there was not a mouthful 
of the pork eaten. The party seemed so delighted with 
the cabbage that they were satisfied. The dinner was 
a success, and all expressed themselves as pleased with 
having had the opportunity of partaking of a dish which 
they had not seen for many a day. 

"I saw the cook remove the pork from the table with 
some satisfaction, for I thought that would come in 
good for breakfast in the morning. But when break- 
fast came, I looked in vain for the pork. I asked the 
cook what he had done with it. 

" 'Say, Nick,' said I, 'where is that pork that was 


left over from dinner? I might as well have it for 
breakfast. We have not had meat for so long that I 
am hungry for some.' 

"The darkey hesitated in making reply, and seemed 
strangely nonplussed. But I insisted on an answer. I 
began to suspect that the confounded nigger had eaten 
the pork himself. 

" 'Ex-ex-excuse me, massa, I done gone take dat po'k 
back again. ' 

" 'Took the pork back again?' I asked, 'what do you 
mean by that?' 

" 'Well, you know, massa, dat dere was no po'k in 
de com'sarry, an' I done gone an' borrid et.' 

" 'Borrowed it?' 

" 'Yes, massa, I borrid dot po'k from Cap'n Wilkins, 
ob de Fust Ill'noy, an' when you'ns were through I 
done tuk et back again. Dis nigger only clone borrid 
et. I tole de cap'n so when I done got it.' 

" 'That was a risky thing to do, Nick,' I told him. 
'Now suppose we had eaten that pork, where would you 
have been? You couldn't have taken it back then?' 

" 'Yous cawn't fool dis nigger, gen'ral,' replied the 
confounded darkey. 'I done know'd better. I know'd 
that when gen'lmens dine, an' dar's only a little bit ob 
ennythin', dey nebber teches et. I done know'd et. I 
done know'd it wouldn't be teched. I know'd I cud 
took dat po'k all backag'in, widout a brack in de skin.' 

"And so it was. The shrewd darkey had waited on 
tables long enough to know that when there is very 
little of anything on a dish at dinner none of the guests 
is likely to touch it, out of politeness. But it struck 
me that it was a mighty big risk to run, under the cir- 

After dinner we sat and smoked and talked about 
Paterson and things at home till the time for the after- 
noon dress parade. Here I was given a horse and ac- 
companied the general as an orderly, and as there were 
two or three other privates mounted in that capacity, I 
did not feel much abashed. But they had given me 
another horse, which was not as good a one as the gen- 
eral's, and when the staff galloped along the line with 
me following them, I had a difficult job to hang fast to 
the saddle. 


Escorted by the orderly who had come for me in the 
morning, I rode back to the camp of the Thirteenth lato 
in the afternoon, after having had a most enjoyable day, 
and passed through an experience not often allotted to a 
private soldier. The distinction of having been invited 
to dinner with a general also set me up a peg or so in 
the opinion of my companions. No civilian can fully 
appreciate the influence of little things like this. 

En passant, speaking of General Stagg, reminds me 
that his brother John, who originally enlisted in the 
Eleventh New Jersey Infantry, was later in the war 
promoted to a lieutenancy in the First Michigan Cav- 
alry and served as an aid-de-camp on General Stagg's 
staff. As before said, John is now a sort of general 
himself, being in command of the Paterson Fire De- 

From that time on, till the end of the war, I always 
remembered Peter Stagg as the dashing cavalry general 
surrounded by a brilliant array of staff officers. The 
picture was, as it were, photographed on my memory. 

Great was the shock, therefore, when I next visited 
him. I had remained in the service for a year or so 
after the war was ended on special service in the Freed- 
men's Bureau. But the main portion of the army had 
returned to their homes and settled down to the routine 
of citizens' lives. 

Great was my surprise, I say, when I saw Peter 
Stagg. He had opened a little grocery store on Main 
Street, and there I called. 

"Is the general in?" I asked. 

"The what?" inquired the half -grown lad I had ad- 

"The general," I repeated. "General Stagg?" 

"Oh, it's Pete, you mean. Yes, he's in the back part 
of the store, waiting on a customer." 

And there I found General Stagg, wearing a long 
grocer's apron, and measuring out a quart of kerosene 
for a woman ! 

The transformation from the picture in mind to the 
reality before me, nearly knocked me over. But it was 
the same welcome, the same hearty manner. Peter 
Stagg was the same whether in a general's uniform or 
in a grocer's apron. 


"Bank is but the guinea's stamp, 
A man's a man for a' that," 

said Robby Burns , but still, I fain would repeat, the 
change was startling. 

And when I went down the street, whom did I meet 
but Captain Scott, my old company commander, stand- 
ing on the corner of Broadway, yelling at the top of his 
voice, peddling whips! 

As for myself, 1 went back to the Guardian office to 
set ty pe ! 

But there were many exciting scenes to pass through 
between the time I took that dinner with General Stagg 
and the time I next had a composing stick in my hand. 
The most terrible scenes and experiences were yet to 
come. And I am getting close upon them ! 




It was the purpose of the author in writing this story 
to present some idea of the daily life and experience of 
a private soldier. It was to give an inside history of 
real army life in war times, rather than follow the 
stilted route of maneuvers, movements, engagements 
and statistics. As said earlier in the story, the experi- 
ences and services of the Thirteenth New Jersey merely 
formed the thread on which [the incidents were strung. 

And yet the truth as to dates and names has been 
adhered to, so that to the extent to which this is carried, 
it is practically a history of the regiment to which the 
writer belonged. The further history of the detailed 
incidents of the campaign and individual experiences, 
however, would be largely repetitive of what has already 
been described, and henceforth only new experiences 
will be detailed, those similar to what have already 
been described being cursorily referred to. 

There still remain, however, some novel incidents and 
adventures to be described, and some scenes more ter- 
rible than [anything yet presented to the reader, and it 
will consequently be to the advantage and interest of 
the latter to patiently pursue the story to the end. 

I interpolate these remarks here, because it is an ap- 
propriate place. The Thirteenth Regiment at this par- 
ticular time was going through the most inactive period 
of its entire experience. Never before and never after- 
ward did it have such a long rest as at Stafford Court 

Yet we were not entirely idle, for the ordinary duties 
of a soldier do not leave much time, whether it be in 
camp or on the march. The term "idleness" is only 
comparative, when mentioned in connection with a 


I remember one incident of a personal nature. I 
heard that my Uncle David, a lieutenant in the Thirty- 
fifth New Jersey, was at Aquia creek, and obtained a 
pass to go and see him. It involved a walk of five or 
six miles through the thickest and deepest mud. When 
I reached his camp, my trousers were besmeared to the 
knees and my shoes were filled with the red pigment. 
My uncle went to the sutler's and presented me with a 
nine dollar pair of boots, coming to the knees. They 
were admirable for the purpose of keeping out the mud, 
and I was heartily pleased with the present. 

My uncle probably never knew what became of those 
boots. On the next march they hurt my feet so that I 
temporarily traded them with Cornelius Mersereau, one 
of my companions, for a pair of English shoes that had 
been captured from a blockade runner, bound for the 
Confederacy. There is no use talking, nothing is as 
good as low, flat, broad soled shoes for marching. 

But I only intended the exchange to be temporary, 
till after we had concluded the march. Alas, Mersereau 
was killed in the next battle, and his feet swelled so 
that I could not pull off the boots, and they were buried 
with hirn at Chancel lorsville. Of that, later. Mer- 
sereau's name is carved on the base of the soldiers' 
monument at the falls in Paterson. The boots are ab- 
sorbed by the soil of Virignia, somewhere. 

It was just about this time that there were numerous 
changes among the officers in consequence of the resigna- 
tions and consequent promotions. Lieutenant Colonel 
Swords, who, despite his name, was a peaceably dis- 
posed man, resigned. Captain John Grimes was pro- 
moted from captain to major. But the greatest sensa- 
tion was caused by the promotion of Private Franklin 
Murph}', of Company D, to the position of second lieu- 
tenant. As said before somewhere the promotion of a 
private over the heads of the sergeants and others in the 
direct line of promotion, always created a sensation and 
not a little indignation over what was esteemed a sense 
of injustice. As a general rule, it indicated a "pull" 
somewhere that was not popular among those con- 

There was consequently not a little kicking at first 


when Murphy made his rirst appearance on parade 
ground in a brand new uniform of a commissioned 
officer. But he proved such a kind-hearted officer, and 
seemed disposed to put on so few airs, that this feeling 
soon wore off, and Frank Murphy became one of the 
most popular officers of the regiment. 

I refer to him particularly, because this Frank Mur- 
phy has become one of the most prominent men in the 
State of New Jersey. His name was mentioned re- 
cently in connection with the office of United States 
Senator, and he was also spoken of as a candidate for 
Governor of New Jersey in 1895. This is the same 
Franklin Murphy. 

Along about the middle of April (this was in 1863, 
remember), we received word that the army was about 
to be honored with another visit from President Lin- 
coln. The other parts of the Army of the Potomac had 
been reviewed, and this demonstration included the 
Twelfth Corps, under command of General Slocum, 
only. The review was a grand success and a magnifi- 
cent sight. 

The corps included about twenty thousand men, com- 
prising all branches of the service. It marched to a 
large field about four miles from camp, and there went 
through all the evolutions incident to such an occasion. 

The army was never in better condition than at the 
present time. The men had had a good rest, for some 
time the rations had been plenty and good, and all the 
regiments had been perfected in their drill. In fact the 
army was recuperated, fresh, and in magnificent shape 
for the beginning of the campaign which we all antici- 
pated as soon as the spring fairly opened. The long- 
rest had put everybody in good condition bodily, and 
every man's spirits were proportionately buoyant. 

While we all knew that there was arduous marching 
and hard fighting in store for us, yet no one felt down- 
cast or discouraged. In fact, I might almost say that 
every man was eager for the fraj r . The desire to get 
into something active and less monotonous was uni- 

Even our old, and for sometime forgotten, friend 
John Ick, prated not of "slaughter houses" and mani- 


fested such a desire to get started at something that he 
actually excited the admiration of Reddy Mahar. 
Without exception, I think I am safe in saying, the 
entire army was desirous of being "on the move." 

It was not my luck at this last review in which Presi- 
dent Lincoln participated to get anywhere near him. I 
was in the ranks while he rode down and around the 
line, and afterward marched past him in the review, 
but only got a somewhat distant glimpse of one I had 
almost come to regard as a personal friend. 

I imagined, from what I saw of him, that he looked 
more gaunt and careworn than ever. It may have been 
imagination, but every succeeding time that I saw Presi- 
dent Lincoln the more did he appear to me to be aging. 
And now that we can more fully appreciate what he 
had to go through, how could it have been otherwise? 

Just about this time, the surgeon of the Thirteenth, 
Dr. J. J. H. Love, was promoted to the position of bri- 
gade surgeon -in-chief. This took him away from our 
immediate vicinity, greatly to our regret, for every sol- 
dier revered Dr. Love. He was, until his recent death, 
a highly respected citizen of Montclair, and held in 
great esteem far beyond the limits of that picturesque 
New Jersey town. 

But at last the expected order to move was received. 
We were suppled with sixty rounds of ammunition per 

That meant business! 

The usual quantity carried by the soldier was about 
forty rounds. Sixty was never given out except on the 
eve of an expected battle of more than ordinary dimen- 
sions and importance. We were also directed to dispose 
of every superfluous article, and place ourselves in 
marching order in the fullest meaning of the word. We 
were "in it" now for fair. 

On the 14th of April came the order, "Fall in, Thir- 
teenth," and after the usual preliminary preparations, 
bustle and excitement, we started off — many never to 

Little did we know then — and perhaps it is better 
that we did not — that in a short time the Thirteenth 
Regiment would be back in that very camp, with deci. 


mated numbers, torn and shattered, after having passed 
through one of the bloodiest conflicts, one of the most 
disastrous repulses of the whole war — the engagement 
that has gone into history as " The Battle of Chancel- 



"men that ain't afraid op hell." 

On to Chancellorsville ! 

Now for a battle that was doubtless one of the bloodi- 
est and most disastrous of the war. And yet the Union 
army never started into a campaign more confident of 
success. Little did anj'body apprehend that it was to be 
the most terrible repulse ever sustained by the armies of 
the North ! 

The army was in magnificent shape. The discipline 
was perfect. General Hooker had won the confidence 
and esteem of every man under his command, from the 
highest to the lowest. The spirit of his dash and vigor- 
had permeated rank and file, line and staff, and the sol- 
diers believed themselves part of an army that was in 
vincible, under a commander who was unconquerable. 

Colonel T. H. Ruger, the lighting commander of the 
Third Wisconsin, had been promoted to brigadier gen- 
eral, and was in consequence our immediate command- 
ing general. We had as much faith in him as a brigade 
commander as the army had in Hooker as the grand 
commander. The men had had a good rest, they were 
in fine condition physically and full of fight and spirit, 

The sentiment was universal that the rebellion was 
about to be quenched, and that the coming battle would 
be the settler. 

That it was going to be a terrible conflict was evident 
to everybody from the extensive and complete character 
of the preparations. It is unnecessary to go into all of 
the details in this respect. But it is significant to 
remark that soldiers were served with one hundred 
pounds of ammunition and eight days' rations just before 
starting on that fateful campaign, on April 27, 1863. 


1 ' The plan of the campaign was that the Fifth, Eleventh 
and Twelfth (our) corps, should rapidly move up the 
Rappahannock and get into position in the extreme rear 
of the enemy at Fredericksburg, rendezvousing at Chan- 
cellorsville (of course we privates knew nothing about 
these plans at the time; I am here quoting from 
' Toombs' Eeminiscences, ' Swinton, and other authori- 
ties). General Couch, with two divisions of the Second 
Corps, was to follow as far as United States Ford, and 
cross there as soon as the success of the first movement 
was apparent by the driving away of the enemy guard- 
ing that point. Reynolds, Sickles and Sedgwick, with 
the First, Third and Sixth Corps were to cross the Rap- 
pahannock below Fredericksburg and make a vigorous 
demonstration at that point." 

Such the authorities say was the programme for the 
campaign, and it was really well planned, for it in- 
volved a simultaneous attack on the enemy from three 
sides, and a series of those flank movements which in 
battle are supposed to be invincible. 

Nothing unusual from an ordinary march occurred for 
two days. There were no signs of the enemy and 
everything was as quiet and peaceful as a militia 
parade on the Fouth of July. 

The only thing that specially attracted my attention 
was the ascension of a military balloon. It was a good 
sized balloon inflated with gas from a generator carried 
on wheels for the purpose. It ascended several hundred 
feet and from it we could see the two occupants scan- 
ning the enemy's country through their field glasses. 
The balloon was attached to the ground with a long 
rope, on a windlass, and at a given signal, the men 
below would wind up the windlass and haul the aero- 
nauts down. I distinctly remember wondering what 
would happen if some rebel sent a bullet hole through 
the balloon while it was in the air. 

On the afternoon of the same day I saw the first mili- 
tary telegraph. It was just being introduced and the 
men were drilling as we marched along, in preparation 
for its use in the coming battle. The men ran along 
like skirmishers, carrying poles about ten feet long, 
sharpened at one end, while the other had a sort of 


double fork, like the hook on the end of a cistern pole. 
Another lot of men would come along with wire on 
reels on a wagon, and this was strung on the poles about 
as fast as the horses could run. Three or four miles of 
telegraph line could be put up in an hour in this way, 
and removed in less time. 

At each end of the line was an operator. The idea 
was a good one, but the movements of an army in battle 
are too rapid to use the telegraph much. I remember 
seeing the lines in the first part of the battle of Chancel - 
lorsville, but before long they were tying useless, scat- 
tered along the ground. 

On the third day of our uneventful march, I think it 
was, we crossed the Rappahannock River on pontoon 
bridges, and were once more in what might be called 
the enemy's country. On the afternoon of the same 
day we approached the Rapidan River, and were about 
to cross it at Germania Ford, when we were suddenly 
interrupted and startled by a volley of musketry from 
the boys in the Third Wisconsin and Second Massa- 
chusetts, immediately in front of us. 

We had suddenly pounced down upon a lot of rebels 
busily engaged in building a bridge over the river, and 
we captured nearly the entire party. They were a jolly 
lot of Johnnies, and wanted to know why we had not 
waited till they finished the bridge, so that we could 
cross the river easier ! 

There was one thing at this point that filled me with 
horror. As we approached the bank at the edge of the 
narrow river, we saw on the other side a rebel who had 
escaped capture and who was running over the open 
field. A big Wisconsin man alongside me lifted his 
rifle and aimed at the fleeing rebel. 

"Don't shoot him," I cried. "Tell him to surrender!" 

"To — — with him," replied the bloodthirsty Wis- 
consinian. "Dead rebs tell no tales!" 

"But — " I started to say something more, but my 
voice was drowned by the report of the rifle, and the 
fleeing rebel dropped dead. 

I did not relish tha,t sort of warfare a bit. It looked 
to me like murder, this shooting down in cold blood one 
poor man. But when I ventured to express my senti- 


merits to the slayer, he gruffly turned upon me and said : 

"Say, young feller, when you know the devilishness 
of those varmints as well as I do, you won't be so 
chickenhearted. I never let pass a chance to kill every 

one of them I can. So just hold your wind, 

young feller. ' ' 

I said nothing more, but I had my opinions about it 
just the same. It is one thing to stand in a line and 
shoot at a body of troops collectively shooting at you. 
It is quite another thing to shoot down a single human 
being in cold blood without giving him a chance for his 

The bridge, as before stated, was not completed. The 
pontoon trains were some distance behind. It was 
necessary to cross at once, and we were ordered to do so. 
There was no alternative except to ford the stream. 

The water was at least four feet deep. The current 
was very strong. We had to put our bayonets on our 
guns and hang our knapsacks, haversacks and cartridge 
boxes upon them, so as to carry them high over our 
shoulders to keep them from getting wet. Cavalry 
pickets were stationed a little further down the stream 
to catch those who were carried from their feet by the 
swift current, which, by the way, were not few. 

We were wet to the skin and it was growing quite 
cold, as night was approaching. Fires were lighted to 
dry our clothing, and we were just gathering around to 
make ourselves comfortable, when Major Grimes dashed 
suddenly into our midst and yelled out : 

"I want seven men that ain't afraid of hell!" 

I don't know what impulse struck me. I, one of the 
biggest cowards in the army at that moment, volun- 
teered as one of the seven men who had no fears for the 
future abode of the wicked. 

It was a sudden impulse of some sort for which I 
could never account. I did not know of course what it 
meant. I did know that it meant some dangerous duty 
to perform. My comrades naturally looked surprised 
when I volunteered for this unknown horror. 

I, of course, repented at once and felt like kicking 
myself for being so fresh. I wondered why I had an- 
swered as I did, But I wouldn't back out now. I 


would have been a laughing stock forever afterward. 
Indeed, after going that far, I would have stuck to it if 
I had positively known that I was to be killed in half 
an hour. But although I tried to look brave on the 
outside, everything inside of me was quaking with 
terror, and the cold chills were chasing each other down 
my back. 

With my fellow volunteers I was marched to brigade 
headquarters, the party was duly formed, and, under 
the command of a captain, we started out for the un- 
known place that Major Grimes had described so calor- 




If there was reliable proof that the real old-fashioned, 
orthodox, red-hot, tire and brimstone hell were of no 
longer duration than the Tophet described by the excited 
Major Grimes, I fear that there would be a good deal 
more wickedness in this world. 

We were marched up the hill, and, like the famous 
forty thousand men of old, we were marched down again, 
and back into the camp of the Thirteenth Regiment. 
We were received with all sorts of jeers as to how Ave 
liked it. whether it was hot, and if we had returned for 
our linen dusters and fans! We assured our comrades 
that his Satanic Majesty was enjoying good health and 
was as active as ever, but he wanted more company, 
and we had come back for the rest of them. 

We were justified in saying this, for we learned that 
it had been decided to send the entire Thirteenth Regi- 
ment out on picket that night, instead of only a smaller 
detachment. The enemy had been discovered, it was 
said, just in front and it was thought best to send out a 
very strong picket line. So the other fellows had to go 
through the same service as we few who had been so 
very fresh in volunteering. 

I shall never forget that night. Remember, we were 
drenched to the skin from fording the Rapidan River, 
and the night was cold, as it is usually during the latter 
part of April, even in Virignia. There really isn't very 
much difference between the climate of Virginia and 
New Jersey, except perhaps in midsummer and mid- 
winter. The spring and fall are about the same in both 

We had advanced into the enemy's country, and the 
scouts had reported the rebels immediately in front of 


us. So quietly had the movement of this wing of the 
Unio?i army been that the enemy evidently had no idea 
that we were so close upon them, and there was a likeli- 
hood of a collision at any time. 

As said before, we were sent on picket on the very 
outposts. There was nothing between us and the rebels, 
and there wasn't supposed to be much space between us 
at that. No one was permitted to speak above a whis- 
per for fear of its attracting attention. When I was 
placed on my post, which was in a thick woods, under 
a big tree, where it was as dark as Egypt, the officer of 
the guard instructed me in a low whisper, and I was 
advised to be unusually quiet. I was not even to march 
up and down the usual proverbial "beat." The noise 
of the footsteps might attract attention. Under no cir- 
cumstances was a match to be struck for lighting a pipe 
or any other purpose. 

Now this made it worse than ever. Being wet 
through it might have afforded considerable comfort to 
be able to Keep moving to and fro. But to stand still, 
drenched as we were, made us shiver with the cold, and 
pretty soon my teeth were chattering a tattoo that made 
more noise than my footsteps would have made had I 
been patroling a beat. 

But orders were orders and there was nothing to do 
but to do nothing — except shiver. I never suffered 
worse. Inside of half an hour I was almost paralyzed. 

The night was very still. The slightest noise seemed 
to penetrate a long distance. Way out in front some- 
where there was a subdued hum, as from distant voices, 
and they were supposed to be from the camps of the 
rebels. Every nerve seemed to be strung to the utmost 
tension, and one's ears, under such circumstances, were 
phonographic with their supernatural keenness. 

The inactivity of the position finally made me 
drowsy, and I feared it was the drowsiness that pre- 
ceded the act of freezing to death. I shook myself to 
arouse my senses, and was wondering if I could stand 
it for another hour or so, when suddenly my acute ears 
caught the sound of breaking twigs. Instantly I was 
all attention. I at once brought my rifle into position 
and raised the hammer. 


Nearer and nearer came the sound of the crackling 
twigs, till it seemed to be within ten feet of me, when, 
in a subdued voice, I said : 

' ' Halt ! Who comes there?' ' 

"Fo' de Lo'd's sake ! What's dat?" 

That was the answer that came to my military saluta- 
tion. It was so unexpected, so different from what I 
expected, and withal so comical, that I came near 
laughing aloud. But I was suspicious. It was the 
voice of a negro, but it might be the assumed tone of a 
rebel scout. So I again said : 

" Who comes there, I say? Answer, or I will shoot !" 

"Fo' de Lo'd's sake, massa, don't shoot dis poor nig- 
ger. I'se doin' nothing. I done gone done nothin'. 
Doan' shoot! Oh, Lo'd! Oh, Lo'd!" 

"Come here and let me see what you look like," I 

There was a rush that frightened me, and before I 
could fully realize it, there kneeled at my feet the worst 
scared darky ever seen. My eyes had become some- 
what accustomed to the darkness, and I could see him 
kneeling at my feet with his hands clasped in the atti- 
tude of supplication. 

"Oh, doan' kill dis poor nigger!" he cried. "Doan' 
shoot me. I doan' know'd dere was any so'gers about 
here. I tho't dey was all on the udder side of de crick. 
Say, boss," he added, interrupting himself, as he drew 
a little nearer and straightened himself up: "be you-uns 
a Yank?" 

"Yes," I replied, "I am a Northern soldier. I am 
not a rebel. And there's thousands more right behind 

"Thank de Lo'd!" he cried devoutly "Praise de 
Lamb! Salvation am come at last! Glory Hallelu- 

I didn't know what the confounded darkey meant. I 
thought I had struck an escaped lunatic. 

"Praise de Lamb!" continued the excited negro. 
"Am it true we niggers is free? Be you-uns one ob 
Massa Lincoln's men?' ' 

I assured him that I had the honor of being one of 
the humble members of the army lighting for the gov- 


eminent presided over hj Lincoln — although of course 
in not exactly those words. Then I asked the poor 
darky what he meant hy all this rigmarole. 

He told me that the colored people there were wait- 
ing for the arrival of the Northern army that was to set 
them free and take them "Up North," where they were 
to spend the rest of their lives in the midst of plenteous 
milk and honey — and whiskey. He announced his 
willingness' to accompany me at once. 

"I'se ready to go 'long straight away now," said he, 
gladly. "Only wait a min'it till I gits de old 'oman 
and de pickaninnies. We-uns '11 have our bund'l ready 
in a min-it. Praise de Lamb! We'se free at last! 
Glory halleluyer!" 

The excited darky fairly yelled this out, and I feared 
that it would attract the attention of the rebels supposed 
to be a short distance in front. So I told him to stop his 
noise. The corporal of the guard did hear it and came 
running up to see what was the matter. He thought of 
course that it came from one of the men on picket. 

The matter was explained to the corporal, who told 
the darky that it would be his duty to take him back 
to headquarters. This was done in spite of the protests 
of the darky, who wanted to go back after "the old 
'oman and de pickaninnies." 

He had not been gone long before another sound in 
the darkness ahead of me nearly frightened the wits out 
of me. It was a female voice, and a lusty one at that : 


Now the front syllable of this appellation fitted me 
exactly, but I concluded to remain quiet and see what 
it all meant. I recognized the voice as that of a negro 
woman, but the presence of a woman out there in the 
woods at night was something strange. Presently the 
call was repeated : 

"Jo-si-er! Jo-si-er! Whar you is, Jo-si-er?" 

The voice didn't seem to be twenty-five feet distant, 
and I thought I would venture forward and investigate. 
The crackling of the twigs was heard by the old woman, 
and she said : 

"Oh, dar you is, Jo-si-er. What for you go out jist 
as de hoe cake am done bake? Come, it am ready, you 


good for nothin' lazy nigger. Seems to your ol' mammy 
you'se allers hungry." 

To my astonishment I found myself at the threshold 
of a typical negro's log cabin. On the hearth blazed a 
roaring fire that was temptingly warm. From a crane 
of the old-fashioned sort hung a big broad spider, upon 
which was a thick hoecake, done to a turn, while on a 
little table at the side of the room stood a steaming pot 
of coffee. Goodness, didn't it look tempting ! 

I had no idea that there was a human habitation 
within miles, and I was thunderstruck to come across 
the cabin occupied by this negro family. I stood at the 
open doorway contemplating the scene with curiosity 
and interest. 

The fat old negro woman was standing with her back 
to me and did not see me. She was busily engaged in 
the intricate operation of getting the flap -jack off the 
griddle upon a huge platter of wood, ready to remove 
to the table. 

"Here, you hungry nigger," she said, "here's yo' 
hoecake. De nex' time yo' gits yure old mammy to 
bake a cake for yo' in de middP of de night, 3 r o'll " 

Here she turned and saw me. Instead of "Jo-si-er" 
she unexpectedly contemplated the apparition of a very 
wet, very tired and very dirty-looking soldier, armed 
with a bayoneted rifle, standing there like a wandering 

She gave one yell, and tottered backward, upsetting 
the table, spilling the steaming coffee on the floor, and 
dropping the platter with the hoecake back into the fire. 




The first thing I did was to make a grab for that hoe 
cake before it got burned up in the fire. While I was 
doing this, I was startled by a series of unearthly yells 
from the opposite side of the cabin. 

Looking over toward that direction I saw three young 
negro babies, ranging in age from two to five years. 
They had been asleep on the floor in the corner, and 
had hastily arisen in terror when aroused by the noise 
of the old woman's yelling. The "kids" were as naked 
as the day they were born. The colored people in those 
parts never put on such frills as dressing their children 
in nightgowns when they put them to bed. 

My attention was then directed to the old woman her- 
self. She had got upon her knees, and with her hands 
clasped devoutly was praying with a vigor that would 
have done justice to a Methodist deacon in the amen 
corner of a church. 

"Oh, Lo'd! Oh, Lo'd!" she exclaimed. "Hab mercy 
on dis ere mis'ble sinner. Oh, Massa Debb'l, doan' 
take dis poor nigger! Doan' take me war de fire burn 
and is not done squelched ! Oh, Lo'd sabe me from de 
debb'l afore he take me down below! Massa Debb'l, 
please, kind Massa Debb'l, good Debb'l, doan' tote dis 
ere poor nigger off to der ' ' 

"What in thunder are you getting off?" I inter- 
rupted. "What's the matter with you anyhow? I am 
not the devil. I am not going to 'tote' you off to the 
fire and brimstone. What I want is some of that flap- 
jack. And put the coffee on again. The best you can 
do if you don't want to be carried off is to get that sup- 
per ready again. Those things make me hungry. The 
devil don't eat. I will soon show you that I am no 


devil if I once get my teeth on the edge of that flap- 

I remember to this day how the whites of the old 
woman's startled eyeballs bulged out as she stood there 
looking at me, rot even yet satisfied whether I was real 
flesh and blood or his Satanic Majesty. 

And no wonder. It was the first time she had ever 
seen a Union soldier in full uniform. The rebel uni- 
forms, originally gray, had become dirt color, and if 
you took a lot of prisoners from the Passaic county jail 
and armed them with old guns, and hung a dirty 
blanket around their necks, it would make a good repre- 
sentation of a Confederate private. 

Untidy and soiled as my uniform was, it looked im- 
posing to the old woman, with the brass belt plates, 
glittering bayonet and other accouterments, and alto- 
gether it looked unlike anything she had seen on the 
earth or in the waters under the earth. It was only natural 
that she took me for a devil. But I can't say that I felt 
much complimented! 

Shivering and shaking, the old woman hastened to 
comply with my orders. Presently she managed to 
muster up courage to ask me if I was one of "Massa 
Lincum's sogers." I assured her that I was and then 
followed another scene of thankfulness over freedom 
similar to that of the man I had encountered on the 
picket post. 

Then she thought of the man herself. 

"Whar's dat Jo-si-er?" she asked. "Did you see a 
lazy, good-for-nothin' nigger out yar? He done gone so 
long dat I'se afeared he am gobbled up." 

"Oh, he's all right," I answered. "He is out there 
talking with some of the other soldiers. ' ' I did not 
want to alarm her by telling her that he had been cap- 
tured and taken back to headquarters. 

Just then I heard some sort of a commotion outside. 
I had forgotten all about my duties as a soldier on 
picket. The sight of that toothsome hoecake and 
steaming coffee had driven everything else from my 
mind. The noise outside, however, brought me to my 
senses again and I started to go out. 

"Here, what's going on here?" asked the sergeant 


of the guard, whom I met at the door. "What are you 
doing off your post? Don't you know this is disobedi- 
ence of orders?" 

"I suppose it is, sergeant," I answered; "but just 
look at that flapjack there on the table. ' ' 

"Halt, second relief," said the sergeant, turning to 
the men outside. He was coming around with the sec- 
ond relief. It was 11 o'clock. 

Human nature is human nature. The sight of that 
hot supper there on that cold and cheerless night had 
the same effect on the sergeant and the half-dozen men 
with him that it did on me, and they one and all leaned 
their guns against the door of the cabin and came in. 

The old woman had the coffee ready again by this 
time, and it is needless to say that we made quick work 
of that hoecake. Some pork gravy was served as butter 
and I don't think that I ever tasted a meal that I 
relished more than I did that lonely and singular repast 
there in the wilderness. 

We learned some of the facts from the old woman, 
too. The rebels had been there during the afternoon, 
but had marched off toward Chancellorsville. They 
did not know that there were any Union troops any- 
where in the vicinity. The old woman had heard them 
say that they were going away for good, and that she 
would not see them again. 

This settled us that there were no rebels in that im- 
mediate vicinity at least, and we felt that there was not 
so much need of being quiet and careful to watch for 
attack. Of course it was a gross violation of duty for 
any of us to be there in that hut, even for a few mo- 
ments, but I don't think there was a soldier in the army 
who would not have taken advantage of the occasion. 

I was relieved from my post by the second relief, and 
went back to the picket headquarters for a little sleep, 
as I did not have to go on duty again till 3 o'clock in 
the morning. I slept soundly, despite the racket going 
on around me. 

This racket was caused by the arrival of the remain- 
ing portion of the army. The Thirteenth Regiment, 
being needed for picket duty, was the one that forded 
the Rapidan. The others crossed on pontoon bridges 


that had been placed in position, and they came over 
between midnight and morning and went into camp 
around us. But despite all the noise incident to this, 
we men who had been on picket slept the sleep only- 
known to tired soldiers. 

And well was it that we could sleep. Had we known 
what was in store for us on the two or three days fol- 
lowing, none of us would have felt much like sleeping. 

I was on picket again from 3 to 5 o'clock, and a more 
lonesome two hours I never experienced. The old negro 
woman's cabin was silent, showing that she and the 
pickaninnies had gone to bed, regardless of the absence 
of "Jo-si-er," and with the exception of the occasional 
hoot of an owl, the woods were as quiet and dismal as a 

I leaned against a tree, and I believe that I fell asleep 
standing there. This was often the case. It did not 
take much for a soldier on picket to fall asleep on the 
relief just before daylight. But on such occasions the 
picket would be aroused by the slightest noise. The 
noise that aroused me was the approach of the second 
relief again at o'clock. If I was asleep I was wide 
awake enough when the relief took my place, and I 
gladly returned to camp, completely tired out. But 
there was no more sleep that night. Already the army 
was making preparation for a move. 

It was on Thursday morning, April 30, 1863. It 
was the day previous to the commencement of the great 
battle of Chancellors ville. We knew that we were 
engaged in some important movement, of course, but 
did not know when the fighting would begin or where. 
All the signs, however, with which we had become so 
familiar, indicated that we were close upon a serious 
conflict with the enemy. 

It was a beautiful sunny forenoon. The weather was 
simply delightful. We were marching along comfort- 
ably, leisurely and contentedly. It seemed like a 
spring excursion party, so peaceful was everything. 
There was not a sign of anything like an enemy, and 
the only sound that greeted our ears, beside the joking 
and laughter of the soldiers, was the chirping of the 
birds in the trees which we passed. Now and then a 


chipmunk would dash across the road, and occasional'*^ 
the cotton tail of a fleeing rabbit would be seen scurry- 
ing through the brush. 

All was peace. Nothing could seem further than 
anything like war, when — 


Simultaneously came the familiar "Ker-chew, ker- 
chew, ker-chew" of a flying shell. 

Then a great crash ! Then yells of agony and moans 
of pain, for the shell had fallen and burst in our ranks, 
right in front of us. 

Involuntarily we all turned our eyes toward the place 
from which the report came, which was plainly indi- 
cated by the still hovering cloud of smoke. A moment 
later we saw a small battery of artillery hurrying away 
from the spot on a gallop. It was hidden behind a 
clump of bushes on the hill. It was what was called a 
"masked battery." It could not be seen from the road, 
and no 'one knew that it was there. 

A company of cavalry made a dash after the fleeing 
artillery of the enemy. I don't know if they were cap- 
tured or not. 

Our column halted its march, and everybody made a 
rush to the place where the soldiers were crowding 
around the wounded men. I rushed forward with the 




I rushed forward with others to see what damage 
had been done by the shell that had exploded in our 

And I was immediately sorry that I had done so. I 
received a shock that made me feel sick all over. 

Two men had been literally torn to pieces. Their re- 
mains was strewn over the roadway from one side to 
the other. One man's heart was still throbbing. Pieces 
of skull and human brains lay here and there ! 

One poor fellow had lost a leg, and his writhing was 
terrifying. Others were less seriously wounded. Alto- 
gether there were two men killed, one fatally, and six 
others severely wounded by the explosion of that single 
shell. I turned from the scene sick at heart and sick at 

Nearly every man's face was pallid. It was the sud- 
denness, the unexpectedness of it. Had we been in the 
midst of a battle, when such things are expected and 
looked for, it would not have been so startling. But 
everything had been so quiet and peaceful, and every- 
body's thoughts were so far away from anything like 
carnage and death, that it was just like such a tragedy 
would be in the quiet and peaceful streets at home. 

John Ick came in with his customary remark about 
"slaughter houses, ' ' but no one disputed him. It looked 
more like a slaughter house than anything else. And 
it seemed more like cold-blooded murder than warfare. 
But then what is warfare but murder, at the best? 

For some time after we resumed our march there was 
an unnatural quiet in the ranks. The incident through 
which we had just passed seemed to have an effect on 
every one. It perhaps impressed each one with the fact 


that we were likely to soon meet the same fate as the 
poor wretches we had seen writhing there in the dusty 

But the spirits of soldiers do not remain depressed. 
Pretty soon we came to a small farmhouse along the 
road, and in the barnyard behind the dwelling we 
caught sight of an old sow with a lot of sucking pigs. 

There was no orders to "break rauks," but immedi- 
ately there was a grand rush for those porkers. The 
squealing captives were carried back into the line despite 
the indignant protest of the woman in a very shabby 
dress who came out and futilely ordered the return of 
"them 'ere shoats." 

As we marched along we passed quite a number of 
farmhouses and each one was denuded of everything in 
the shape of live stock. Soon there was a remarkable 
chorus of squealing pigs, squawking chickens and quack- 
ing ducks all along the line. The boys were assured of 
a change in their menu for once, that was sure. 

We marched on and on and on. Detouring the woods 
and fields on each side of us was a lot of cavalry, on the 
lookout that we might not be again surprised by a shot 
from a masked battery. But nothing of the sort oc- 
curred during the remainder of the day, and we did not 
stop till night, when we went into camp in line of battle 
in a fine large open field between two clumps of woods, 
in the immediate vicinity of Cbancellorsville. 

That night we had a banquet with the fresh meat and 
poultry we had captured during the day. We had no 
duty to perform that night, except to be called out in 
line to hear the reading of some orders. 

It was an order from General Hooker complimenting 
the Fifth, Eleventh and Twelfth corps for the com- 
mendably successful manner in which they had achieved 
the movement, whatever it was. We did not know 
what it was. It did not seem anything more than an 
ordinary day's march, with the exception of tho inter- 
ruption from that deadly shell from the masked battery. 

But General Hooker said it was, and that settled it. 
There was a good deal of braggadocio about that order, 
by the way. In fact General Hooker was entirely too 
previous. The order said ; 


"It is with heartfelt satisfaction that the command- 
ing general announces to the army that the operations 
of the last three days have determined that our enemy 
must ingloriously fly, or come out from behind his in- 
trenchments and give us battle on our own ground, 
where certain destruction awaits him." 

We all cheered, of course. It was the proper thing 
for us to do under the circumstances. It wasn't a bad 
idea either, that order. It filled the troops with en- 
couragement and fight, and impressed them with the 
idea that this really was to be the deciding battle of the 

It is said that General Hooker took a drink — perhaps 
several of them — after the issuance of that order, and 
made the remark that "God Almighty himself couldn't 
get the rebels out of the hole he had put them in." 
There is good reason for the statement that the general 
did make some such remark as this. 

And although irreverent, there was good reason for 
felicitation over the successful preparations for the con- 
test. It is admitted by all military authorities that it 
was one of the best planned campaigns in history, and 
up to the time of the issuing of that order by General 
Hooker it was perfect as a military movement. 

But the very power that General Hooker had so ir- 
reverently referred to was the power that got the enemy 
out of the hole, and turned a glorious victory into one 
of the most disastrous defeats of the civil war. Heaven 
literally interfered and upset the calculations of an able 

Man proposes, God disposes. Never was this truer 
than in the Chancellorsville campaign. But of that 

We slept quietly, peacefully and unmolested that 
night. Nothing seemed further off than a battle, except 
for the sanguinary orders that had been read, and the 
fact that when we lay down that night the regiment 
was formed in line of battle, and every man had his 
musket at his side. As for any sign of any enemy 
there was no more right there than there is here where I 
am writing at the present moment. Little does a sol- 
dier know what the morrow may bring forth. 


Early on Friday morning, May 1, after my compan- 
ions had been hammering me to their heart's content 
because it was my birthday — a boy of nineteen years — ' 
we fell in line and resumed the march. 

Soon things ''began to look like business." 

We had scarcely gone more than a mile, when we 
were turned into a line of woods and formed a line of 
battle. We were ordered to throw off our knapsacks 
and leave them there — temporarily. But we never saw 
those knapsacks again. I suppose mine is lying there 
yet! I never had a knapsack on my shoulders after 
that morning ! 

Slowly and cautiously we moved forward through 
the woods. The very atmosphere seemed ominous. 
Pretty soon we emerged from the woods and reached an 
open field where we were ordered to lie down — lie flat 
to the ground. I think that I occupied the space of a 

In a few minutes we were ordered up, and we sneaked 
— that is the word — sneaked forward, slowly, cau- 
tiously, till we reached a post and rail fence along 
another piece of woods. Into this we marched. 

In getting over the fence, our regimental commander, 
Colonel Carman, fell and was wounded ! He retired to 
the rear! When I saw him go, I wished heartily that I 
might fall off the fence too ! 

Lieutenant-Colonel Chadwick was happily — for him 
■ — home on a furlough, and the command of the regi- 
ment fell on Major Jack Grimes. 

Company D was sent forward as skirmishers, sup- 
ported by Company C. This was to discover the where- 
abouts of the enemy, supposed to be hiding somewhere 
in the front — to go forward and rake up the muss, as it 

We cautiously moved forward some five or six hun- 
dred feet, momentarily expecting to unearth the enemy. 
Our ears were constantly on the alert for the first sound 
of the ominous minie bullet. But none came. 

Just as we had got in a good position and things 
looked as if the impending conflict could not be long 
deferred, we were surprised to receive orders to retreat, 
and we went into camp again not very far from the 


camp we had left in the morning. Every man felt as 
if this was a retrograde movement and a mistake, and 
all wondered what it meant. 

But soldiers must ask no questions. They have noth- 
ing to do but obey orders, and the next order we received 
was to begin cutting down the trees in front of us to 
build up a breastworks to guard against surprise from 
the enemy during the night. 

While we were engaged in this work, we were startled 
by the discharge of a cannon, not in front of us, where 
it had been expected, but immediately in our rear ! 




The discharge of the cannon was immediately fol- 
lowed by the usual swish of the flying shell. We were 
greatly surprised that there should be such an apparent 
attack from the rear, instead of the front, where we had 
been expecting it. I dropped to the ground and wal- 
lowed in the leaves like a pig, to escape the flying mis- 
siles from the exploding shell. 

Bat there was no exploding shell, at least near us. 
The shot was fired from our own side, from Battery M, 
of the First New York artillery, and it was followed by 
two or three others of the same sort. 

I thought it was the beginning of the fight, of course, 
but it seems that it was only intended as a "feeler," to 
see if the rebels would take it up. It elicited no re- 
sponse whatever and everything was as quiet as a grave- 
yard in the direction where the enemy was supposed to 

This quietness made us all the more apprehensive of 
an attack. It was suspicious and we became impressed 
with the idea that there was some sort of a surprise in 
store for us. We went to work all the more vigorously 
in the completion of the breastworks. 

Well do I remember that day's work. We had been 
served with a ration of fresh meat, which seemed for 
some reason to be always the case immediately before a 
battle. Whether this was to arouse the animal nature 
within us and make us ready for a fight, I cannot say, 
but it was always a fact that there was a service of fresh 
meat immediately before a premeditated engagement. 

The cattle had been killed near us, and there lay 
around on the ground great numbers of heads. These 


we placed on top of the breastworks, with the horns 
pointing toward where the enemy was supposed to be. 
This gave the breastworks a terribly ferocious appear- 
ance, but as a matter of fact it was about as useful as 
the bearskin hat of a drum major. 

When I afterward read how the Chinese soldiers went 
to battle with umbrellas, and making hideous noises to 
frighten the Japs before shooting at them, it involun- 
tarily took me back to those cows' horns on top of the 
breastworks at Chauceliorsville. We are not so very 
far advanced over the heathen when it comes to the 
details of war, after all our boasted civilization. But I 
forgot. War is not civilization. When the time of 
perfect civilization arrives there will be no such thing 
as war. 

We had just about finished the breastworks that after- 
noon when General Ruger ordered us to move forward in 
light marching order. This, bear in mind, was Satur- 
day, May 2, 1863, a date that has gone down in history 
for more than one reason as being one of the most im- 
portant in the history of the war. 

As I said, we were ordered out in light marching 
order. We had already lost our knapsacks, but this 
meant to leave even our haversacks, canteens and 
blankets. A detachment was left behind to guard these 
things, which we left with considerable reluctance, for 
whatever else a soldier may cheerfully do he hates to 
leave behind his "grub-bag" and "watering can." 

We were conducted to a position far in advance of 
the one we had occupied, and there were ordered to lie 
down. "Lie low and be quiet" was the order. I lay 
as low as"B'rer Rabbit" and wallowed in the leaves of 
the woods like a hog. We all remained quiet, speak- 
ing not above a whisper. These things were most dis- 
agreeably ominous. 

The rest of our brigade, with General Pleasanton's 
cavalry and brigade of the Eleventh corps, had been 
sent out to reinforce General Sickles. The latter had 
been ordered to go forward and reconnoiter the position 
of the enemy, and had come across them sooner than 
tbey expected. General Sickles had struck the rear 
guard of Jackson's rebel troops and had taken quite a 
number of prisoners. 


Word came back that the enemy was retreating and 
we all felt delighted at the easy way the thing was 
going. We felt a degree of security that we had not 
entertained in some days. But alas! It was false 

One brigade of the Eleventh corps, and our brigade 
of the Twelfth, were guarding the extreme right of the 
line of battle, while General Sickles and his associates 
were chasing what was then supposed to be the main 
body of a rebel army. 

But here is where the rebels fooled us. The supposed 
retreat which Sickles was following was only a com- 
paratively small detachment of the enemy. The main 
body was flanking us, and the scene of the flank attack 
was immediately where we stood. 

The Eleventh corps brigade was a little to the right 
of us. My company was just then on the top of a hill, 
in front of which was a ledge of rocks. On the right 
was the edge of a piece of sparse woods. On the left 
and behind us, were the sloping, rocky sides of the hill 
on which we stood. 

In front was a low, level space, like a plain. From 
my elevated position I could see General Sickles' 
troops corral ing the rebel prisoners and bringing them 
toward us. A forlorn lot they were, in their dirty gray 
uniforms, shapeless slouch hats, and generally disrep- 
utable appearance. I felt pity for the poor fellows, on 
many of whose faces I imagined I could see traces of 
satisfaction over having been taken prisoners. 

It was just before dusk. The sun had set in a scene 
of glory behind the western hills. The sky was cloud- 
less, golden in hue. It was the approach of a beautiful 
night. It was so beautiful that I even remember hav- 
ing remarked it, there in that exciting scene. 

Exciting scene, did I say? The excitement was just 
to commence. 

Suddenly there were yells, cries, shouts, and the whiz 
of flying bullets on every side. 

Immediately I was surrounded by thousands of flying 

The first that came were hundreds of Eleventh corps 
officers and men. I immediately recognized them by 
the half -moons on their hats. 


Their eyes fairly bulged from their heads in their 
terror and excitement. Many of them were hatless, and 
their hair streamed behind from the breeze caused by 
their rapid flight. Hundreds were unarmed, having 
thrown away their guns in their panic. 

Then, mixed up with the blue, was the gray. The 
rebels, right there in our midst, all running, all shout- 
ing and yelling, were as numerous as the fleeing boys 
in blue. 

Then there came horses, some riderless, pack mules, 
artillery caissons, ambulances and what not, in inextri- 
cable confusion, a perfect mob, demoralized, disorgan- 
ized, utterly beyond control — for it was a panic ! 

The Union troops were fleeing as they supposed for 
their lives. The rebels were chasing them to take them 
prisoners. There was nothing like order or discipline. 
It was simply a crazy mob, a rout, a flight of panic- 
stricken men, rushing with about the same judgment 
and sense as a big audience would rush from a burning 

They came like an avalanche — like a whirlwind. 
Union and Confederate, blue and gray, were inextri- 
cably mixed together, all rushing, screaming, yelling, 
shouting ! 

Nothing could withstand that rush. For an instant 
I stood petrified, and was then swept from my feet as 
if I had been a wisp. What became of my comrades 
I knew not. They had disappeared, been swallowed up 
in the tidal wave of humanity. I was knocked down 
and rolled, fortunately, behind an overhanging ledge of 

I did not attempt to rise. If I had I would have been 
trampled to death in an instant. Instead, I crowded as 
closely as possible under the protecting rock, while over 
me there poured a steady stream of human beings, 
friends and foe alike. They went over that rock, jump- 
ing over to the further side, like the endless roll of 
Erie's waters over the precipice at Niagara. 

This was the scene that has gone into history as "The 
break of the Eleventh corps at Chancellors ville. " I 
was right in it. In fact I was altogether too much in 
it for comfort's sake. 

390 THE YOUNG VOLUNTEER. ' ' • ; . '. 

Vi Lat was it all? What did it mean? 

History calmly tells us that the Eleventh corps had 
been surprised by Jackson, and the latter, by a flank 
movement, had charged upon the former, compelling 
them to fly. This is what history says. And history is 
right when it says that the Eleventh corps did fly. No 
other word could justly describe the movement. 

After a little while the main portion of the grand rush 
subsided and I thought it was safe to emerge from my 
place behind the rock and start to hunt for the Thir- 
teenth Regiment of New Jersey Volunteers. 

I straightened myself up, and was about to pick up 
my rifle from the ground, when a rough hand was 
placed on my shoulder and a gruff voice met my aston- 
ished, and I might say, very much startled ears. 

"You are my prisoner, you Yank!" 

I turned, and found myself in the firm grasp of a 
stalwart rebel sergeant I 




I WAS a prisoner ! 

A more terrible situation it would be hard to con- 
ceive. The approaching darkness of the ending day 
was made the more gruesome by the smoke that arose 
from the desultory firing of many rifles, and the inter- 
mittent boom of artillery posted on every elevated posi- 

Demoralized soldiers were rushing hither and thither, 
apparently without system or order, separated from 
their regiments, without commanders. Cavalry horses, 
some riderless, galloped to and fro, apparently not 
knowing where they were going. The whole battlefield 
was a scene of indescribable confusion, noise and smoke. 

I turned to look at the Confederate soldier who had 
taken me his prisoner. He was a tall, gaunt specimen 
of a rebel, with protruding cheek bones, little, glisten- 
ing eyes, hair long and unkempt. On his head was a 
broad-brimmed, gray slouch hat, much the worse for 
wear and dirt. His uniform, if uniform it may be 
called, looked like the clothing of a man who had just 
come from a trench where he had been mending a 
bursted water main. 

The rifle he carried, as well as the blanket slung over 
his shoulder, his canteen and haversack, I immediately 
recognized as having been recently taken from some 
Union soldier. Half the Confederate army were pro- 
vided with these equipments from the Northern side, 
although where they obtained them was a mystery. 

I must confess that my captor presented a rather pic- 
turesque appearance. He looked like a cowboy on tho 
plains — or in a circus. Although he was so tall and 


gaunt, there was a kindly expression in his eye, and I 
was not the least frightened, for some reason or other. 

'Well, now that you've got me, what are you going 
to do with me?" I asked. 

"Wall, Yank," replied he, "I reckon as how we- 
uns '11 have to take you-uns back to the coop." 

"Tve a good mind to take you prisoner," said I] im- 

This made the rebel laugh outright. And it was 
rather funny. I had no rifle or other arms, and my 
captor was not only well provided in that respect, but 
he was almost twice my size. He could easily have 
picked me up and carried me off. The idea struck me 
as being comical. It wasn't a very cheerful place for 
mirth, but we both laughed in concert at the idea I had 

"The trouble 'pears to be, jist neow," said he, with 
that peculiar twang noticeable alike way "down East" 
and in the South, "the trouble 'pears to'Jbe, that we-uns 
can't tell which way to go. Things seem to be all 
mixed up. We-uns men and you-uns men be a running 
all ways ter onct, an' if we-uns don't look out, we-uns 
'11 take you back to your own camp, an' we-uns '11 be 
taken prisoners by you-uns a'ter all!" 

It seemed very likely. Union and Confederate sol- 
diers appeared to be inextricably mixed in the wild, 
panicky rush that still continued, although it was sub- 
siding. So we just stood there, hardly knowing what 
to do. A moment later, however, something occurred 
that riveted both our attention, the contemplation of 
which so absorbed us that we both forgot our respective 

A Union general, accompanied by several members 
of his staff, rode up to near where we stood. I heard 
subsequently that it was General Pleasanton. The 
latter called to him another officer, a major of cavalry. 

"Where is your command, major?" asked General 

"Eight over thereunder the edge of that woods," 
replied the major, saluting. 

"How many men have you?" 

"About six hundred, general. But there's Captain 


Bassett's cavalry immediately beyond, and I can get 
them if necessary. That would make twelve hundred, 

"How comes it that Captain Bassett is in command? 
Where is the colonel?" 

"He is wounded, general. He was shot from his 
horse only a few minutes ago." 

"Very well, major. We have not a moment to lose. 
I want you to hold back that corps coming over at the 
edge of the woods at the foot of the hill, and hold them 
till I place my battery here. Do you understand?" 

I saw the face of the major first flush and then turn 
pale. And no wonder ! 

From the position where we stood, we could see the 
rebel corps referred to approaching. It was (General 
Jackson's Confederate troops — the same that had 
flauked the Eleventh corps and driven them back, caus- 
ing the panic-stricken stampede which we had just 
gone through. In that corps, approaching us to give 
battle on a part of the Union army where all was de- 
moralization, where there was not a gun in position for 
action, there were from fifteen to twenty thousand men ! 

And yet that vast body was to be kept back by a 
comparatively insignificant body of twelve hundred 
cavalrymen ! 

The major saw what was meant, and turned pale. 
But I will never forget his answer: "General, I under- 
stand your order and will do my duty." 

Now here was the theory of that murderous move- 
ment. General Pleasanton wanted to bring some of his 
artillery to that hill, place them in position, and be 
ready to repel the attack of the rapidly approaching 
corps under General Jackson. It would take ten or 
fifteen minutes at the very least to post the artillery. 
That time must be secured at whatever sacrifice. 

It was simply a question of occupying the enemy's 
attention for that ten or fifteen minutes. In projecting 
a body of twelve hundred men against a corps of some 
twenty thousand, there was but one result possible. 
That was the practical annihilation of the smaller num- 
.. It. was this principle on which General Grant later on 


prosecuted the war. He argued that war was but a 
question of attrition. That, other things being equal, the 
larger army would succeed. By just so many men as 
the larger army exceeded the smaller, just so many men 
would be left on the larger and victorious side when 
the battle was over. 

In the present instance it was merely a question of 
the number of minutes that would be consumed by the 
approaching rebel corps to annihilate the interposing 
Union cavalry. Would it take ten or fifteen minutes? 
If so, then there would be time for the posting of the 
artillery. If not, then the movement would be a failure. 

It was a ride to death, but unflinchingly did that 
major and his twelve hundred men throw themselves 
intolthe jaws of almost certain destruction. 

And I saw that movement — an achievement that has 
gone down into history in prose and in poetry as one of 
the most marvelous examples of bravery seen in the civil 
war. It was an achievement that rivalled that at Bala- 
klava, made immortal by Tennyson's famous "Charge 
of the Light Brigade." 

Yes, I was an eyewitness of that terrible cavalry 
charge of twelve hundred against fifteen or twenty 
thousand. I and my rebel companion stood there pet- 
rified with amazement, as we watched the scene. We 
saw the cavalry charge into the rebel corps, only to be 
cut down in rows. It was an indescribably awful con- 
flict while it lasted. 

Men were shot from their horses. Horses were shot 
under the men, and the latter in many instances fell 
under the steeds struggling in their death agony. Soon 
the smoke rising from the firearms arose and obscured 
the view from our vision. 

In the meantime General Pleasanton was getting his 
artillery into position on the hill near us. For some 
reason we — my captor and I — stood there, comparatively 
isolated from the rest. Near us were a number of Union 
men in charge of detachments, men who had been taken 
prisoners by the enemy the same as I had been. It was 
rather a strange situation. 

The trouble was that things had got so much mixed 
that the rebels did not know which way to take us. 


Union and Confederate soldiers seemed to be every- 
where alike. This perhaps was never known before or 
after during the entire war, but all who were in the 
midst of the Eleventh corps rout at Chancellorsville will 
testify that it was as here described. 

The movement of the handful of cavalry was a suc- 
cess. It took the rebel corps fully twenty minutes to 
disperse, I might almost say annihilate, for of that gal- 
lant twelve hundred, if the records are right, but thirty- 
eight survived the charge ! Among the first killed was 
the gallant major to whom General Pleasanton had 
given the fateful order. 

But the posting of the cannon soon changed the aspect 
of affairs. In a few minutes shrapnel and shell were 
plowing down the ranks of the approaching troops, and 
they were driven back. 

A moment later a division of infantry attacked Gen- 
eral Jackson's corps on their left, and they were driven 
off in confusion, and as history puts it, "with great 

My rebel captor still stood there standing guard over 
me nominally, but so absorbed in what he had just wit- 
nessed that he said not a word nor made any attempt 
to conduct me further. 

Just then a sudden inspiration seized me, and acting 
upon it, in less time than it takes to tell it I had made 
my escape. There was probably never anything like it 
during the war. I have to smile every time I think of 
it even to this day. 

But I will wait till the next chapter to tell just what 
did happen. 




Now the usual weapons of warfare are rifles, pistols 
and swords. 1 don't think it is customary to use one's 
fists in battle. It is not often that the two opposing 
sides get near enough together to use swords, let alone 

But this is an exception. I did use my fists. I 
knocked my rebel captor down, and made my escape. 
I believe it is the only time in my life, at least since 
schoolboy da}^s, that I ever knocked a person down with 
a blow from my fist 

As stated in the preceding chapter, my rebel captor 
and I were simply petrified with amazement at the 
scene we had just witnessed, and we still stood there 
after it was practically over. As before stated, we were 
on a rocky ledge or hill, one side of which, that toward 
the enemy, was precipitous, while the other side was 

My tall companion stood a little lower than I, so that 
our heads were about even. Glancing down I noticed 
that he was standing right on the edge of a rock, from 
which there was a step of four or five feet. 

Visions of the horrors of Libby prison, about which I 
had heard so much, flashed through my mind with the 
rapidity of lightning. Why should I go there without 
a struggle, at least? Was it possible that I might make 
my escape? 

Then I noticed the advantage of my position. That 
settled it! My thoughts, which were working with 
electric swiftness, were hardly more rapid than my 

An inspiration seized me, and I suddenly let out, 
with my full force, with my right fist, and gave that 


big rebel a blow under his ear that must have aston- 
ished him greatly, even if it did not hurt him much. 

I saw him reel, lose his balance, and fall headlong 
from the edge of the rock where he had been standing. 
As he fell his gun flew from his hands, and he went 
sprawling down the steep side of the elevation. 

I went the other way ! 

Talk about sprinting ! Talk about bicycle scorching 
and breaking records on the Blank Company's patent 
light-weight, non-puncturable tires ! 

None of them could hold a candle to the gait I main- 
tained as I rushed down the other side of the hill. I 
ran, I knew not whither, neither did I care, so long as I 
was escaping. I went through a brook without as 
much as wetting my feet, jumped little precipices, 
vaulted over deserted breastworks, dodged under the 
shells flying from the cannon's mouths, and never 
stopped till I at last fell, almost senseless, with palpi- 
tating heart and panting breath, alongside a little brook 
in the midst of a thicket ! 

But I was safe, and that was all that I cared about. 

I never knew what became of my rebel captor. 
While I was running I felt the buzz of a bullet swish 
past mj r head, which I imagine came from his rifle, al- 
though of course there was no telling who fired the 
bullets that were flying around so recklessly just about 
then and there ! 

But I was left quiet only for a moment. There was 
a mighty cry and yell, a wild rush, and the first thing 
I knew I was knocked headlong into the brook by a 
team of runaway horses — a six-horse team at that ! 

It may sound queer to the reader who has not been in 
the war to hear one talking about horses running away 
in the midst of a battle. That sounds too much like an 
everyday street incident. But nevertheless such was 
the fact. It was a very frequent occurrence, and many 
men were injured by runaway horses during the war. 
Horses are horses, whether at home or in the army, and 
they will run away just the same and from similar 

It is a wonderful thing how a horse becomes ac- 
quainted with his surroundings. Here at home, no 


matter how much he may be frightened at first, he soon 
becomes accustomed to the electric cars and the steam 
road roller. In the army the horse becomes accustomed 
to the moving of large bodies, the racket of the bands, 
and even the intolerable noises of a battle. But some 
little thing, insignificant in itself, but out of the usual 
order, will startle a horse and set him to running away. 

I don't know what started the team that ran over me. 
They were attached to the limber — the front wheels and 
ammunition box — of a cannon, and they came dashing 
down the hill, striking me, and knocking me into the 
brook, and passing over me. 

The soft mud in the bottom of the brook probably 
saved my life. I was pressed deep into the slimy ooze, 
and covered from head to foot — a veritable "mud 

I pulled myself out with difficulty, quite badly hurt, 
having received a severe bruise on the hip. I did not 
think much of it at the time, but it began to hurt badty 
afterward, and has bothered me ever since more or less, 
particularly in cold and damp weather. 

But I was young then, and comparatively tough, and 
although I was still stiff and sore, yet I scrambled out, 
and scraping off some of the mud with a stick, pro- 
ceeded to discover "where I was at." 

Just then I heard a moan in the bushes near me, and 
a cry for help. I went to the spot and found an officer 
lying there with the blood flowing from a wound in the 
fleshy part of his leg. A closer inspection discovered, 
to my astonishment, that it was none other than Major 

"Why, major," said I, "what's the matter? Are 
you hurt?" 

"Yes," he replied. "I'm shot through the leg, I 
guess. Can't you help me to get somewhere?" 

The major was a big man, and it was about all I 
could do to support him on his feet, but I managed to do 
so, and led him back a ways, where there was a fire and 
a little yellow flag stuck in the ground. This indicated 
the headquarters of some surgical detachment. The 
doctors were there engaged in their customary butcher- 
ing work. I turned the major over to their tender 


Perhaps Major Grimes never knew till now who was 
the private that led him out of the thickets where he 
was shot, on that eventful Saturday evening, May 2, 
1863. Major Grimes was not seriously hurt, however. 
It was only a flesh wound, and not dangerous, although, 
doubtless, painful enough. 

I then started out to see if I could find the Thirteenth 
Regiment of New Jersey Volunteers. But it was like 
finding a needle in a haystack. It was simply a disor- 
ganized mob. 

It had become dark, and only for the faint lights of 
campfires here and there was there any guiding beacon 
for the homeless wanderers who were looking for their 
respective commands. 

In a case like this, the regimental flag is the designat- 
ing emblem of the position of the command. I looked 
for a long while for the colors of the Thirteenth in vain. 
I passed flag after flag, but they were all of some other' 

Non-commissioned officers were calling out "This 
way for the One Hundred and Seventh New York, ' ' 
"Here is the Twenty -seventh Indiana," "Fall in, Third 
Wisconsin," and such cries, which facilitated matters 
considerably, and knowing these to be regiments of my 
own brigade I felt that I must be getting pretty close 
"at home." 

And I was. In a few moments more I heard the 
welcome cry, "Thirteenth New Jersey," and proceeded 

Was this the Thirteenth New Jersey? 

There were the well-known colors, sure enough. 
And there was Corneil Mersereau, poor fellow, holding 
the flag — his last day on earth, for early the next morn' 
ing he was killed. 

"Hello, Corneil," said I, "how's my boots? All 

"Yes, the boots are all right," he replied. "But you 
can have them in the morning. I wouldn't have them 
for a gift. My feet are covered with blisters." 

t: AJl right," I answered. "I will take them back in 
the morning, for my feet seem to have got a rest." 

But I never wore those boots again. Mersereau wa* 
killed with them on in the morning, as I said before. 


The Thirteenth New Jersey Volunteers never pre- 
sented a more forlorn aspect than they did that night. 
When they arrived there were not a hundred men there. 
They had all become scattered in the wild rush of the 
evening, and had not come together again. But one by 
one the boys came straggling in, so that by 9 o'clock 
there were three or four hundred of them. The most 
of the remainder came back during the night. 

Some never came back. What became of them is 
not known. Whether they were killed, and buried as 
"unknown," or whether they went to some rebel prison 
to die the most lingering and horrible of all deaths, is 
something that perhaps will never be known. They are 
down on the matter of fact army rolls as "missing." 

Everything went crosswise that day and night. By 
some strange fate we occupied the same breastworks we 
had built earlier in the day, and there were the steers' 
horns just as we had placed them, looking as ferocious 
as ever, 

But we were on the other side of the breastworks. 
The rebels had got around on the side we had occupied 
in the forenoon, and we had got around to their position. 
Everything seemed to have been turned topsy-turvy. 
That 'rout of the Eleventh corps" was one of the worst 
panics the Army of the Potomac ever experienced. 

There was no chance for rest that night, however. 
We had not been long in that position behind the breast- 
works before we were again ordered to move forward. 

Scarcely had we started when there began a rattle of 
musketry in front of us, and a roar of artillery in the 
rear ! 




It was right here that General Stonewall Jackson 
was killed. 

General Jackson was one of the ablest officers on the 
Confederate side. His only superior, either in rank or 
ability, on the side of the rebels was General Robert E. 

It seems that General Jackson, flushed with the suc- 
cess of his early evening maneuver, which resulted in 
the disastrous repulse of the Eleventh corps, undertook to 
follow up his advantage. 

He ordered General Hill's division to the front, and it 
was the firing from these troops that we had just heard. 
General Jackson, accompanied by his staff, rode for- 
ward to examine the position of things personalty. The 
Union pickets, under General Berry's command, heard 
him coming and fired. 

Jackson fell back toward his own line, but in a differ- 
ent place from where he had started. Hill's (Confed- 
erate) troops, mistaking Jackson and his staff for the 
Union troops, fired upon them, killing and wounding 
half the escort, and fatally wounding General Jackson. 

So Stonewall Jackson was killed by his own men, and 
not by the troops of the Northern army. 

Suddenly the firing ceased. The rattle of the 
musketry in front and the booming of the cannon in our 
rear stopped almost simultaneously, as if from a pre- 
concerted signal. 

The command of the Thirteenth Regiment had fallen 
on Captain Beardsley, the senior line officer, all the 
members of the field and staff being either absent or 
wounded. I remember how he walked up and down 
the line behind us, urging us to be calm and cool, and 
advising us to lie close to the ground, We did^iot need 


a second admonition of the latter kind. As for myself 
I fairly scooped a hole^ in the ground, so that I could 
snuggle closer and be out of the way of any stray bul- 
lets that might come along. 

About midnight, Burney's division of Sickles' corps 
made an attack on the enemy. The moon had come out 
and it was quite light in the open, although dark 
enough in the woods. The ground that we occupied 
was composed of alternate open spaces and dense patches 
of woods. 

The moonlight charge on the enemy aroused them like 
a broken hive of angry hornets, and immediately there 
came a perfect shower of bullets whistling over our 
heads. We lay only a short distance in the rear of the 
attacking column. 

Then the Union artillery behind us began their can- 
nonading of the woods in which the rebels were massed. 
In a moment or so there commenced the worst racket 
that I had ever heard. 

Upon the raised ground, some quarter or half a mile 
in our rear, the guns of the artillery were stationed. We 
occupied lower ground, but the mouths of the cannon 
were pointed right toward us, although of course 
with elevated aim. Anybody who knows anything 
about it is aware that the most noise and most concus- 
sion from the discharge of a cannon is experienced by 
those in front of the guns. The noise was simply ter- 
rific. A hundred summer thunderstorms combined 
could not come anywhere near it. 

The murderous shot and shell passed directly over 
our heads. In the night the burning fuses left behind a 
train of fire like a sky rocket. This made, as it were, 
a perfect arch of fire over us. The rebel artillery re- 
plied. They accepted the challenge and the long range 
duel began. 

No pen could describe an artillery duel. It is as if 
all the demons of hell were let loose at once. The 
shrieking shell, the deafening thunder of the cannons, 
the fiery arch over us, the shouts of the men, combined 
to make a scene the like of which is indescribable. 

Occasionally a shell would prematurely explode in 
the air, and the fragments would scatter in every direc- 


tion, a perfect rain of broken iron, dealing death and 
destruction where the missiles might fall. Fortunately 
none was hurt in our regiment, although there were a 
number wounded in this manner in other commands. 

Once or twice the shells from the opposite sides col- 
lided in midair. They hurst simultaneously with a 
terrific crash. 

The old soldiers could distinguish the kind of a can- 
non from which the shell was fired from the character 
of the noise they made while passing through the air. 
Some went through with a prolonged shriek. They 
were Armstrongs. Others went with a "chew-chew- 
chew," like a train of cars. These were the Whit- 
worths. Then again there was a peculiar sort of a 
shell, such as came from Best's and Hexamer's batter- 
ies, that seemed almost human. Their noise could be 
best interpreted as: 

"Where-is-he — where-is-he — where- is-he!" 

And when the shell struck and exploded, some of the 
boys would answer : 

"There he is!" 

For an hour, maybe more, this infernal artillery duel 
continued, till we were almost deafened. Startling as 
it was at first, the men finally became accustomed to it. 
They talked of other things as calmly as if they had 
been at home. Many even went to sleep and perhaps 
dreamed — perhaps dreamed of their peaceful homes ! 

It is wonderful how quickly human nature can adapt 
itself to circumstances. It is marvelous under what 
conditions a soldier can sleep. 

After a long while, after the apparent waste of a 
good many tons of iron and steel, the duel came to an 
end. It did not stop suddenly, but gradually died 
down, till, after a desultory explosion now and then, 
everything became as quiet as the country, and so far 
as any noises were concerned, there was nothing war- 
like to be thought of. 

This silence was so intense as to he ominous. Old 
soldiers do not like anything mysterious. Anything 
that they cannot understand they regard with suspicion. 
A silence like this, under such circumstances, meant 
that something was up. 


There was ! 

It must have been along about 2 or 3 o'clock in the 
morning when suddenly, from the woods in front of us, 
there began the most exciting sort of a racket. There 
were yells and cheers and discharges of musketry. The 
line of Union troops immediately in front of us had ap- 
parently become engaged with the enemy. 

A singular thing struck us, however. The yell that 
the rebels were indulging in was not the regular ''rebel 

When the Union troops cheered their cry was a suc- 
cession of " Hurrahs, " generally repeated three times. 
The rebel war-cry was more continuous and unbroken, 
a sort of "Hi-yi-yi-yi-yi!" 

It was not the rebel "Hi-yi-yi" that came from the 
troops in front of us, and which were shooting in our 
direction. It was, on the contrary, the regular 
"hurrah" of the North! 

What could this mean? 

"Oh, that's plain enough to understand," said Lieu- 
tenant Wells. "The rebels have adopted our hurrah to 
deceive us. They are using it as a surprise or a decoy. 
It is an old trick of the Johnnies." 

We all thought that this was a good explanation, for 
there was no doubt entertained that the opposing forces 
in our front were those of the enemy. 

The fight continued for some little time. We were 
just beginning to think it was about time for the Thir- 
teenth to take the place of the line actively engaged in 
front, when suddenly an unexpected, a startling thing 

Our side had made a little charge and captured a 
number of prisoners. The fighting had been in the 
woods, where it was quite dark. Neither side could see 
the other. The muskets had been aimed and fired from 
the sound rather than at any body of troops, for it was 
too dark to distinguish the troops. 

But when the prisoners were brought in, and taken 
out in the open field where the moonlight was brighter, 
a terrible discovery was made. 

We had been fighting Union soldiers! We had been 
shooting our own men ! 




At this moment General Ruger rode up. 

"For God's sake," he shouted, "stop this! Cease 
firing ! Send some one out to tell them that these are 
our men." 

To send some one on this errand was rather danger- 
ous work. It was like flying in the face of death to go 
forth and inform the opposing army they were making 
a mistake. 

But there were brave men in those famous daj r s of 
the war. Volunteers there were in plenty. These mes- 
sengers of peace started on their dangerous journey, and 
some of them succeeded, by making a detour, in getting 
around to the commander and explaining the fact that 
they were fighting their own men. 

The shooting stopped, and we advanced and mingled 
with the men we had just been trying to kill. Then 
the mistake was verified. We men in blue had been 
really fighting other men in blue, shooting them down 
like dogs. 

I don't think anything ever happened during the war 
more heartrending. The pdea that we had been shoot- 
ing at our own men was something terrible. The feel- 
ing we experienced was indescribable. 

And there on the ground they lay, brave boys in blue, 
some already still in death, some writhing and strug- 
gling in their last agony, many grievously wounded. 
Shot by their own fellows ! 

It was horrible ! 

We had fallen into precisely the same sort of a mis- 
take as happened when General Stonewall Jackson was 

Some of the 'Union soldiers further in the advance 


had been ordered to change position. In making the 
movement they passed to the front of what had previ- 
ously been the advance guard. The latter, not being 
able to distinguish blue from gray in the dark, naturally 
took them to be the enemy. 

The Union troops changing position, being thus as- 
saulted, of course imagined that the rebels had got in 
the rear, and turned upon them. Each thought the 
other the enemy, and thus the nocturnal battle began. 

The discovery of the terrible mistake nearly threw 
the Union soldiers on both sides of the engagement in a 
panic. For some time they were completely demoral- 
ized. The criticism the officers received for the blunder 
was unlimited. It was also unjust, for it could not well 
have been avoided. But the men were so indignant at 
the occurrence that they were altogether unreasonable. 
Under the sad circumstances of the case it was only 

There was a disposition on the part of both officers 
and men that this night fighting, when friend could not 
be distinguished from foe, ought to be stopped. And it 
was stopped. No orders were given, but it appeared 
to be a tacit understanding that whatever further fight- 
ing there was to be done would be deferred till after 

We remained lying on the ground for the remainder 
of the night. We hugged our rifles as our bedfellows, 
for there was no telling when there might be another 
attack from some source. There was not much sleep 
after that. The men were all too much excited. The 
episodes of the night had been too enervating to permit 
of slumber even on the part of the most calloused. 

Everybody instinctively knew now that the great 
battle was on. Everybody appreciated the fact that the 
morrow would be the decisive day. It was felt that the 
righting would begin at daylight. 

But it did not. 

It was as beautiful a morning as the Lord ever made. 
It was Sunday — the first Sunday in May. I distinctly 
remember what a beautiful morning it was, how all 
nature seemed to smile, how peaceful it all appeared. 

There was not the first sound of battle anywhere. 


The birds were singing in the branches of the trees, that 
were soon to be torn asunder with shrieking shot and 
shell. The men were standing or lying around, talking 
quietly and wondering what was going to happen next. 
In the distance could be heard an occasional bugle call 
or some drum signal, and mounted aids and orderlies 
galloped about as if delivering orders, but otherwise 
everything was remarkably quiet. 

Before daylight along came that ominous ration of 
fresh beef — so indicative of approaching carnage. We 
were being fed for the battle. 

"There's a schlaughter-haus somewhere by here 
alretty," said John Ick, who had been remarkably 
quiet during the past day and night. 

"It's quite evident, John," I replied, "for here is 
some of the beef that has been slaughtered." 

"We vill be schlaughtered dot way our own sellefs, I 
tinks so mit," replied John Ick in his broken English. 
"We vas goin' to haf some bad fights before much 
longer, ain't it?" 

"Oh, don't get the blues, John," I said. 

Those were the last words I ever addressed to John 
Ick. That was the last time I ever heard his voice. 
The next time I saw him he was dead. 

Even while we were talking there came the sound of 
a cannon. 

It was but a single shot. A moment later it was an- 
swered by another, further down the line. Then another 
and another, gradually becoming so distant that it could 
scarcely be heard. 

Well enough did we know what that meant. It was 
the signal ! 

It was the signal for the great battle to begin. 

And thus, on that quiet, beautiful Sunday morning, 
May 3, 1863, began the battle of Chancellorsville proper. 
Of course all the occurrences of the two preceding days 
were a part of the battle. They were the preliminaries. 

But now the great conflict itself was to commence. 

The battlefield extended from where we were, on the 
extreme right at Chancellorsville, to far beyond Freder- 
icksburg, sixteen miles or so below. 

All along the river we had advanced across to the 


enemy's side and challenged him on his own soil. The 
rebels had a clear space of country to fall back upon. 
We were backed by the river. We felt that we could 
not retreat if we desired. But ,no one thought of re- 
treating on the Northern side that day. We expected 
to "drive the enemy ignominiously from his lair," as 
General Hooker had put it in his famous order only two 
days previous. 

The Union cannon signals were at once repeated on 
the rebel side, summoning that army to battle array. 
It sounded like the acceptance of a challenge. Tto 
gauntlet which we had thrown down had been picked 
up by our antagonists ! 

Immediately there was a commotion all over. Corps 
commanders, surrounded by their staffs, could be seen 
galloping from the vicinity of General Hooker's head- 
quarters at the old Chancellorsville house to the differ- 
ent parts of the field where their commands were 

Orderlies and messengers dashed hither and thither. 
Flying artillery earned its name by flying to advanta- 
geously elevated positions further in the advance. 
Great bodies of cavalry galloped off somewhere. 

Here and there, in the rear, we could see the staffs 
stuck in the ground from the tops of which waved a 
yellow flag. Arranged in rows near these ominous yel- 
low flags of the surgical and hospital departments, we 
could see the ambulances, all in waiting for their hor- 
rible freight, for soon their passengers would be dis- 
membered and mutilated human beings. 

The surgeons took off their coats, rolled up their shirt 
sleeves, and placed their glittering array of knives and 
saws handy within reach on trays. Attendants super- 
intended the placing of splints and bandages and piles 
of lint. 

They were getting read} r to mend the men soon to be 

I think this affected me more than anything else. 
Would I be one of those soon to fall into the surgeon's 
hands? Or would some cruel and relentless bullet do 
its work so effectively that no surgeon would be needed? 

They say that in the navy the worst moment is when 


the sailors sprinkle sand on the decks to absorb the 
blood of the men to be killed and wounded, so that the 
living will not slip while in the performance of their 
grewsome work! In the army, I imagine that the 
supreme moment of mental torture is when one con- 
templates the systematic preparations of the surgeons, 
as just feebly described. 

But something else very soon took our attention from 
the surgeons and everything else rearward. 

A sudden commotion in front of us. A crash ! 

And the bullets began to whizz past and over us like 
hail, literally like hail ! 




Literally like hail flew the wicked minie bullets 
over and around us ! 

When bullets come along singly, or in twos or threes, 
they come with a buzz and a zip, very similar to a big 
bumble bee flying past you and striking against a fence 
or a barn. But imagine, if you can, the sudden capsiz- 
ing of a thousand hives of big bees and the simultane- 
ous release of the insects. 

The single buzz would become one continuous hum 
or whirr. And so became the noise of the thousands of 
bullets that now whistled around and above us ! 

I say "above" because we were just then lying flat 
upon the ground, waiting for our turn to become ac- 
tively engaged in the battle that was raging in all its 
fury. The Second Massachusetts and Third Wisconsin 
had been ordered in first. The Thirteenth New Jersey, 
Twenty-seventh Indiana and One Hundred and Seventh 
New York were waiting there to relieve the first two 
mentioned reigments when they should have exhausted 
their ammunition or have been driven back or annihi- 
liated ! 

I heard a voice, low, cool, calm, behind me. I turned 
my head and saw Captain Beardsley, who, as before 
said, was in command of our regiment just then. The 
rest of us, officers and men alike, were hugging the 
earth for all we were worth, so as to expose as little of 
our bodies as possible to the storm of missiles flying 
about us. But there stood Captain Beardsley, erect, 
courageous, unexcited, as cool and collected as if he 
were in the peaceful street of a city, utterly regardless 
of the bullets whistling around him, and of the shells 
that now and then exploded close by! I was struck 
with amazement at such an exhibition of bravery. 



"Keep cool, men," said he, in that calm, low voice of 
his, "keep perfectly cool, lie low, and don't get excited. 
Be calm. Keep cool now!" 

Keep cool ! I couldn't have kept cool to save my life. 
I was fairly burning up with the fever of terror and ap- 
prehension. My tongue was hard and dry, and I could 
hardly have spoken if I had tried. And yet, although 
fchus hot, I was shivering, not from cold, of course, but 
from very fear. 

Some men pretend not to have been afraid in the be- 
ginning of a battle. It is my opinion that such men 
deliberately lie. I think every man there was fright- 
ened. Captain Beardsley was outwardly calm, but he 
was as white as a corpse, and I doubt not that he was 
fully as terrified as the rest of us, but he was too much 
of a man to show it. 

I think the inaction of the moment, coupled with the 
knowledge that it was "our turn next," was a thousand 
times worse than it was for those actively engaged a 
hundred yards or so ahead of us. In times of danger 
there is nothing like activity to keep the mind from 
constantly thinking, dreading, apprehending. Great 
calamities are magnified by apprehension, the same as 
pleasures are enhanced in the anticipation. 

As I turned my head still close to the ground, to look 
at Captain Beardsley, a staff officer rode up to the cap- 
tain to give him some order. Perhaps it might have 
been the order for the Thirteenth to advance! It was 
Adjutant-General "Williams, of our division. As he 
leaned over the neck of his horse to speak the word to 
Captain Beardsley, I saw a terrible sight. 

Suddenly the chin and lower jaw of the adjutant-gen- 
eral disappeared entirely ! In its place was a mass of 
blood, raw flesh and gore ! A piece of shell had come 
along and torn away the entire lower portion of his 
face. One could not see pieces of shell in their flight, 
so rapidly did they go, but the effect could be seen, 
which made it seem as mysterious as it was horrifying. 

The adjutant-general sat still on his horse for an in- 
stant, with the blood gushing from his neck in a great 
stream. Then he reeled and felL He soon bled to 
death where ho lay. 


I involuntarily shrieked ! A man lying almost a]~*ag- 
side of me, a member of Company I (for I was the last 
man in Company K's line), raised his head to see what 
was the matter. 

It was his death ! Even while I looked at him, I saw 
a little red spot appear on the side of his forehead, the 
head fell back, the man gave a convulsive stretch, and 
was dead ! 

If I had been hugging the ground closely before, I 
fairly wallowed in the dirt after that ! 

From where I lay I could see some distance down the 
side of the slope where we were located. The field pre- 
sented a scene of devastation. The bodies of horses and 
men could be seen lying everywhere. Some were silent 
in death; others were writhing in their last agony. 
Broken ammunition wagons, dismounted cannons, ac- 
couterments, rifles and other debris were scattered all 
over the field. A dense smoke hovered over the scene, 
giving the atmosphere a lurid glow. Everything 
seemed on fire ! Everything appeared to be red — the 
color of blood. 

I saw a mounted orderly galloping across the field. 
Suddenly, as if by magic, the head of the horse flew off! 
It literally disappeared ! An exploding shell had de- 
capitated the animal while on a gallop. 

And yet, strange to relate, that horse actually gave 
two more leaps before it fell ! The muscular action of 
the gallop had continued two jumps before the nerves 
could telegraph the word that the horse had received its 
death stroke. 

Then the animal fell, in a somersault, throwing the 
rider some distance, and apparently stunning him, for I 
did not see him move again. Aghast, I turned my 
head to the ground ! 

But only for a minute, for then came the order which 
we had been awaiting, yet dreading. 

"Fall in, Thirteenth!" 

It was Captain Beardsley who spoke, cool and calm 
as ever. 

"Steady now," he said. "Don't get excited! Keep 

We were ordered forward, and I thought our time had 


Come. I couldn't conceive how any man could stand erect 
in that storm of flying missiles, and live a second. 

We arose to our feet and were ordered forward ! 

I can hardly say that I arose to my feet. I distinctly 
remember crouching down as much as possible, so that I 
almost crept as we moved forward, perhaps a hundred 
feet. Here we were again halted, and every man dropped 
prostrate, as if shot, and once more we hugged the 

Here a new danger confronted us. We had before 
been just outside the woods. Now were lying a short 
distance in the forest. The cannon balls and shells were 
crashing through the branches of the trees over our heads, 
and there was a continual fall of the limbs as they were 
cut off. It did not take long to transform those trees into 
telegraph poles, but the rain of the branches while it 
lasted was almost as dangerous as the duly recognized 
ammunition of the ordnance department. Several of the 
men were so severely hurt thereby that they had to be 
removed to the rear. 

The cannonading by this time had become incessant, 
uproarious, deafening ! The bullets were whistling past 
us more wickedly than ever. The tree limbs were 
dropping among us. There was death staring us in the 
face, apparently from every direction. 

In our new position we could see the enemy just be- 
yond the Second Massachusetts and Third Wisconsin 
regiments ahead of us. The union side had slightly 
the advantage of the position, for the ground was gently 
declining and the rebels were somewhat lower than their 
opponents. But the rebels had reached an old stone fence, 
which they were utilizing as a breastwork, and this made 
chances about even. 

As the Confederate host loaded and fired their guns, 
they looked like a lot of devils in a war-d;mce. The 
upward movement of the arms in manipulating the long, 
old-fashioned ramrods, made them look for all the world 
as if they were dancing. 

We could hear the battle cries of the opposing armies 
— the continuous " Hi-yi-yi " of the rebels, and the well- 
known three cheers of the union men. These were given 
alternately as each side wavered or advanced, 


The two battle lines appeared to advance and recede, 
like the waves at the seashore, so that it looked at one 
moment as if the Confederates were retreating and the 
next as if the Union side had been driven back. Each 
side would then cheer when it advanced. 

There is something inborn in human nature to like a 
contest of power. The staidest citizen becomes excited 
and interested in a sparring match, a wrestling bout, a 
horse race, or any sort of a competition. Even in the 
terrible surroundings of that battle, I distinctly remem- 
ber the arrival of a new interest in the desperate fight 
that was taking place. 

It is when this moment arrives that the feeling of 
fear over personal safety in a more or less degree leaves 
the participant. As for myself I will not say that I 
was not still frightened — terribly frightened ; but I felt 
the fear not altogether disappearing, but being over- 
shadowed by the interest in the contest. 


"load and fire at will." 

The excitement of the battle had effected us all to a 
great extent, as related in the previous chapter. At the 
same time I cannot say that I felt any very intense 
desire to get up and rush forward to be an active par- 

Not so with William Lambert, one of our Company 
K members. He had become more interested and ex- 
cited than the rest of us. Suddenly jumping to his feet, 
and waving his gun high over his head, he yelled out, in 
a voice that could be plainly heard even in that tremen- 
dous din : 

' ' Come on, boys ! Come on ! They're running ! The 

cowardly are running ! Come on ! If you're not 

all cowards, come on!" 

And with that Lambert rushed ahead and was soon 
in the ranks of one of the regiments ahead of us. 

In less than two minutes Lambert came back ! 

This time he did not have his rifle with him. On the 
contrary he was carrying something else in one of his 
hands ! It was the broken remnants of one of his arms ! 
It had been struck by something and literally torn to 
shreds. A strip of skin and the cloth of his coat sleeve 
prevented its falling off altogether, but what there was 
left of it was being carried in the other hand. That 
was the last of brave William Lambert's fighting. He 
went to the rear, had his arm amputated, went to the 
hospital, and was discharged when he got well. 

I have just told how Lambert was holding his 
wounded arm in his well hand as he came back from the 
battle line. That was typical of all wounded soldiers. 
There is an involuntary and irresistible desire or inclina- 


tion to take hold of the part that is wounded, as if to 
carry it, and this habit became so recognized by the 
"boys" that they invariably referred to the wounded 
member as "the baby." The fact that wounded men 
carried their injured hands and arms and heads so care- 
fully and tenderly, naturally created the term, "baby." 

It was recognized by all of us that we would in a very 
short time be precipitated to the very front and become 
actively engaged with the enemy. I involuntarily 
looked around and glanced at such of my companions as 
were near enough to be seen. 

Every countenance bore a peculiar expression. Every 
face was pale, ashen in its pallor, and yet bore a strik- 
ing expression of determination. 

It is said that there is no other place in the world 
where a man gets that expression. It is known as 
"the frenzy of battle." 

It seems as if a man under these circumstances con- 
centrates all his energies, all his power, mental and 
physical, into one thing, and that is to be brave ! He 
becomes an animal. His eyes have the same glare you 
see in the eyes of dogs as they stand ready to spring at 
each others' throats. It is seen in the eyes of a bull in 
the fighting ring. It is the glassy expressions of death 
without the concomitant of despair. It is the look 
that means death — death to one or the other. I 
imagine you might see that same expression in the faces 
of two men who are about to fight with bowie knives, 
"till one or both are dead." 

In poetry and history it is called the look of "the 
frenzy of battle." 

I turned to the man beside me. It was David Harris. 

"How do you feel, Davy?" I asked. I found that 
my tongue was so hard and dry that I could scarcely 

"I wish I was feeding the press in the Guardian 
office," replied he with a sickly smile — such a smile as 
one might expect from a corpse. 

I glanced in the direction of John Ick and Eeddy 
Mahar. Both were pale, which was an unusual thing 
for Mahar, for his complexion was like his name — reddy. 

Down on the end of the line I saw Corneil Mersereau, 


ftiid wondered if my boots hurt his feet as they did mine. 
But such a thing as blistered feet didn't worry one at 
that moment, I guess. 

I noticed John Stansfield and Henry Speer, lying 
quietly, saying nothing, pale ; like the rest, and having 
a worried expression. On the other side of me lay But- 
terworth, my faithful "pard." 

"How do you like this, Jack? " I asked him. 

"I guess we're done for, Joe," he answered, quietly 
and solemnly. 

"I think I am going to be one of the first one killed," 
I replied. And I really felt so. 

"I would rather be killed outright than wounded like 
some of these fellows, ' ' said Butterworth. 

And the way some of "these fellows" were wounded 
was frightful. There was passing through our line a 
perfectly endless stream of reddened, mangled human 
beings, shot in every imaginable part of the body. 
There seemed to be no end of them. It made me won- 
der how it was that there were any of them left at the 
front to fight. 

Some of our men had been detailed to carry the worst 
wounded to the rear. One of these was Jimmy Pest. 
As we were talking, Post and another man came along 
with a helplessly wounded man in a blanket, which 
they were carrying with the ends over their shoulders. 
The wounded man sank the blanket down till it looked 
like a bag. 

"Whom have you got there?" I asked. 

"Some poor devil," replied Jimmy. "I don't know 
whether he is dead or alive. But I am going to take 
him back to the doctor anyhow." 

I plainly remember how Jimmy Post looked on that 
occasion. He was naturally very ruddy, with a face 
covered with freckles; but he was then so pale that it 
seemed as if nothing but the freckles could be seen. 

Perhaps the terrific noises of the battle prevented one 
from hearing little things, and maybe that is the reason 
why I failed to hear much from the wounded men. The 
soldiers had so nerved themselves up, as it were, that 
they were in a condition to stand terrible pain without 
complaining. Horribly wounded men made no sign 


whatever of being in agony. Those who were compar- 
atively slightly wounded seemed to be actually laugh- 
ing. The more seriously hurt perhaps moaned and 
groaned, but the outcry then and there was not what 
would have been expected. 

When a man was shot through the abdomen, it 
seemed to be excruciatingly painful, and he would 
shriek, as he writhed and rolled on the ground, like a 
decapitated chicken. But I am inclined to think that 
in other cases the victim was stunned, so that there was 
comparatively little pain at the start, and consequently 
none of those demonstrations of agony that might be ex- 
pected. It is unquestionably the fact that in civil life, 
perhaps because it is less expected, an injured person 
makes considerably more of a demonstration than does 
a soldier in battle. 

I don't know how long we remained there in our ad- 
vanced position, waiting for our turn to take the places 
of those actively engaged in the fight. It might have 
been hours, it might have been seconds, so far as our 
sensations were concerned, for there was no thought of 
time. As a matter of fact it could not have been many 
minutes. Then came the long-awaited order: 

''Fall in, Thirteenth! Forward, march!" 

iWe marched forward, in battle array. The line was 
wavering and unsteady, but as good as could have been 
expected under the circumstances. As before, I fairly 
crouched on the ground as I walked along, as if desir- 
ing to present a less surface for a target to be shot at. 

It was the very worst possible thing for me to have 
done. If a bullet passes through a man (interesting 
thing to talk about, isn't it?) while he is standing in a 
natural position, the same as through he were lying in 
his bed, it makes it the easier for the surgeon to probe 
the wound and remove the ball. If he is twisted out of 
shape, the course of the bullet is erratic, and to trace the 
ball the wounded man would have to put himself in 
precisely the same shape he was at the moment he was 
wounded, and this of course would be a difficult thing 
to do. 

But I must confess that I "scrouged" a good deal, 
and tried to contract my body into the smallest possible 


compass. And no wonder, for we were getting into the 
thick of the fray, and the bullets were whistling past us 
more wickedly than ever. 

We had, in obedience to orders, removed the bayonets 
from our rifles, so that they could be loaded the more 
handily, and opened the lids of the boxes containing our 
cartridges and percussion caps. We were ready for the 

A strange feeling began to come over me. The feel- 
ing of fear was vanishing. As if by magic the strength 
appeared to come to my legs again, and they no longer 
shook and trembled. I suddenly became utterly oblivi- 
ous to personal safety, and I straightened myself up as 
stiffly as if I were on dress parade. 

For an instant, the briefest sort of an instant, there 
flashed through my mind the leading events of my past 
life, and they as suddenly disappeared. Everything 
was forgotten in the excitement — the fighting excite- 
ment of the moment. I was possessed by a sudden and 
bloodthirsty desire to kill every gray-backed rebel that 
I saw dancing not the distance of a city block in front 
of me. 

I have often heard old soldiers tell of this feeling. 
While all honest men will declare that at the com- 
mencement of a battle, or while waiting for their turn 
to become engaged, they are frightened out of their five 
senses, yet when they actually get into the fight all this 
disappears. I never believed it, but it turned out to be 
true in my case as in others. Every trace of fear and 
apprehension disappeared, and for the time being I was 
utterly oblivious to any feeling of danger. 

Slowly, steadily we moved forward. 

"Don't shoot till you receive the order," said Captain 
Beardsley, behind us, in that calm voice of his — a voice 
that seemed to inspire us all with confidence and fear- 

This made me wonder. We were close enough to the 
enemy to shoot. We could almost "see the whites of 
their eyes," to use a revolutionary simile. Every shot 
would perhaps have taken effect, but still the order was 
not to shoot till we received the order. A few more ex- 
cited soldiers could not restrain themselves and a shot 


was heard here and there, but as a general rule the men 
faithfully obeyed their instructions about firing. 

The men in our ranks began to fall. I remember 
plainly the case of Silas Abbott, who was immediately 
beside me. He was shot through the abdomen. He 
fell on the ground before me, rolled in the dry leaves of 
the forest, twisted and turned, and contorted his con- 
vulsed body in a manner that showed he was suffering 
exquisite torture. Poor fellow ! He died a few days 
later from the effects of that wound. 

But it did not seem to affect me very much then and 
there. My sensibilities and feelings appeared to have 
become blunted. I cared for nothing. 

I felt a sting in the calf of my leg, and glancing down 
saw the blood coming from the bottom of my trousers. 
But it didn't hurt. In fact the only inconvenience was 
in having my leg wet, and it was warm. The warmth 
of my blood appeared to have no more effect than if it 
had been a cup of warm coffee that had been spilled on 
the inside of my pantaloons. 

I was too much excited to care for that. I had made 
up my mind to stick to my place until I was disabled. 

Another bullet scraped along my side. I plainly felt 
that and it hurt a little, but still I had no intention of 
retiring from the field — as some of them perhaps would 
have done under the circumstances. 

Still the men kept falling around me. And still the 
order was repeated not to fire till we had received the 

I felt something trickling down my face. 

"Joe, are you wounded?" asked little William J. 
Post, who stood at my side. 

I lifted my cap and brushed my hand over the top of 
my head. "When I looked at my hand it was covered 
with blood. But I never would have known that I was 
hurt had it not been for the blood. There was not the 
slightest pain. It turned out only to be a scalp wound. 

The reader will perhaps think that the author was 
getting peppered pretty well about this time, and it is 
the truth. The writer was wounded in six different 
places in that battle, and some of the wounds subse- 
quently turned out to be quite painful. Two of the 


wounds, however, hurt so little at the start that they 
were actually not discovered till the victim had an op- 
portunity to undress. That was in the hospital. But 
at last the order came to fire. 

We were close upon the enemy. "We could almost 
distinguish their countenances. Perhaps the distance 
was between one and two hundred yards. 
Then came Captain Beardsley's order — 
"Attention, Thirteenth! Load and fire at willl" 




The order to "Load and fire at will!" meant for us 
to load and shoot our guns as fast as we could, and 
pepper away at the enemy continuously, without fur- 
ther orders. 

My rifle was already loaded, as were most of the 
others, and the first salute the rebels received from the 
Thirteenth might appropriately be called a volley. As 
soon as possible after firing I looked in the direction of 
the enemy, and it seemed to me as if the number was 
smaller already ! Of course this might have been mere 

I continued to load and shoot as fast as I could. I 
remember Lieutenant Wells, who was in command of 
Company K, and who was stationed immediately behind 
me, cried out : 

"Don't shoot too high. Aim low. Aim at their 
knees and you will hit them." 

This was a common order. In the act of aiming and 
firing, the pull on the trigger or something else would 
raise the muzzle of the gun, so that the bullet would 
pass over the heads of the men aimed at. It is esti- 
mated that this peculiarity is the reason that such a com- 
paratively small number of men were killed in battle. 
The bullets aimed at them went over their heads. 

But by aiming at the knees of the enemy, the bullet 
would go about right to hit them somewhere in the 
upper part of the body. Of course there was more or 
less lateral variation in the course of the bullets, but 
that made less difference, for as the soldiers on the other 
side stood in a row, if one of them was not hit, the next 
one to him might not escape. 


As said, I continued to pepper away. I loaded and 
fired my rifle at fast as I could do it. It took some time 
to load the old-fashioned muzzle-loading muskets, for 
there was the cartridge to tear open with the teeth, and 
it had to be rammed down home with the ramrod, tho 
percussion cap had to be placed on the nipple, and lots 
of other things attended to, taking perhaps altogether a 
minute, maybe two minutes, for each shot. How dif- 
ferent nowadays with the breech -loading, ready-made 
cartridge guns, with which all that is necessary is to 
raise and lower a lever. 

Phew, but it was hot work! The perspiration 
streamed from every pore. The saltpeter in the powder 
of the cartridges got into one's mouth, makmg him ter- 
ribly thirsty. The men wiped the sweat from their 
foreheads with their powder-stained hands, which they 
smeared over their faces till they looked like the be- 
grimed stokers of an Atlantic liner. 

Pretty soon my gun began to get very hot. It was 
so hot that I could hardly handle it, and I had to take 
hold of the wooden part of the stock under the barrel. 
Then it began to expand so that the bullets would hardly 
go into the bore. One would naturally think that when 
the barrel of a gun expands from the heat, it would 
make the hole bigger, but the contrary is the case. The 
metal expands on the inside of the bore and makes the 
hole smaller. I followed the example of some of the 
other fellows and jammed the bullet in by putting the 
end of the ramrod against a tree — for be it remembered 
we were fighting now in a thick woods. 

The fact that the men were falling on all sides of me 
seemed to make no difference what happened. All that 
possessed me was an ardent desire to do my part in kill- 
ing the rebels in front of me, and there is not the slight- 
est doubt that some of them were laid low by the bullets 
that came from my gun, for I took deliberate aim every 

The Thirteenth, and other regiments in the same line 
of battle, seemed to waver forward and backward. The 
rebels would apparently retreat, when we would ad- 
vance. Then the enemy would appear to come nearer 
and we would fall back again. And so it went, back 


and forth, so that the effect was to preserve about the 
same distance between the two contending sides 

As the men fell out of the ranks, either from being 
killed or wounded, we were ordered to "close in on the 
colors." That meant for the line to be closed in and 
the gaps filled up as fast as the men fell out. When 
the battle began I was somewhere about two hundred 
men from the flags. The last that I remember look- 
ing at them, there were not over fifteen or twenty men 
between where I stood and the colors. That shows the 
way the Thirteenth wat being mowed down ! 

Several times I saw the colors drop as the color bear- 
ers were disabled, only to be immediately picked up by 
some survivor. Several times the right and left general 
guides were felled, and the little flags they carried were 
seen to fall, but they immediately reappeared. Once 
when the left general guide colors fell they were being 
borne by my comrade, Cornelius Mersoreau, the man 
who wore my new boots. He was fatally wounded. 

The first man I saw hit in Company K was Llew- 
ellyn J. T. Probert, who was shot dead. Directly Cor- 
poral Henry Speer dropped out. Then in turn followed 
Isaac Clark, William Freeland, Alexander Kidd, 
Francis More, John J. Nield, William J. Post, James 
W. Vanderbeck, Stephen Carlough and others. These 
wore only members of Company K. The other com- 
panies were suffering equally, if not even worse. 

Altogether that morning the Thirteenth Regiment 
lost eighteen killed, and eighty-nine wounded, includ- 
ing seven commissioned officers. 

I had fired perhaps twenty or twenty-five shots, when 
suddenly — 


I thought that somebodj^ had hit me in the hand with 
a stone. It felt exactly as if it was a blow from a small 
stone thrown from the other side of the street. 

I did not think much of it, for the moment, but when 
I tried to lift my gun to fire another shot, I found that 
my hand was disabled, and looking at it, saw that it 
was covered with blood. 

The little finger was torn to pieces and the side of my 


hand shot away. What was left of the little finger was 
pulled over the back of the hand by the tendons. I 
could not move a single finger. I was disabled ! 

I remember carefully leaning my gun against a tree. 
That was the last I ever saw of the old rifie that I had 
carried so far, that I had so often cleaned and polished, 
and that, on the march, at times seemed to weigh at 
least a ton. 

I turned to leave the ranks, as was the right thing 
for a wounded soldier to do, when Lieutenant Wells gave 
me a whack on the back with the flat side of his sword. 

"Get back into the ranks," he cried. He thought 
that I was skulking or had been seized with one of those 
panics that frequently attack soldiers under such condi- 

"But I'm wounded, Heber," holding up my bloody 

"Oh, all right then," ho said. "Get back to a doctor 
as soon as you can." 

Just then Lieutenant Wells raised his sword aloft 
with a sort of hurrah, and while I looked I saw that 
sword fly from his gi'asp and go spinning through the 
air perhaps fifteen or twenty feet. It had been struck 
by a bullet or something and knocked out of the lieu- 
tenant's hand. 

And the same bullet took Wells' first finger along 
with the sword. 

Heber looked at his hand a moment, went calmly over 
and got his sword, and then joined me in the retreat for 
the rear, on our mutual search for a surgeon to attend to 
our respective hurts. 

On going back to the rear we had to pass down the 
side of one hill and up another, and as we ascended the 
latter we went through what might be termed a verita- 
ble shower of lead. Bullets fairly rained around us. 
We could see them strike the sod and tear up the dirt, 
causing a puff of dust to arise. It seemed even hotter 
here than it was in the midst of the battle itself. I 
have since thought that it was here that I received one 
of those minor wounds which I did not discover till 
later, although of course that is only conjecture. At 
all events I had no consciousness of being hit by any- 
thing at that time. 


We finally got back to a place where we found a yel- 
low flag sticking in the ground, which we recognized as 
the stand of some field surgeon. Here were a lot of 
other wounded men and we had to wait for our turn at 
the "slaughter house," a3 John Ick would have called 
it had he been there. 

While waiting I saw something that I never saw be- 
fore nor afterward. It was a vivandiere. She was 
rather a pretty girl, only for the fact that she was 
tanned and sunburned like a farmer in haying time. 
She wore a costume which was very much like the latest 
make-up of the female hicj^clists — a sort of zouave dress, 
with bloomers and leather leggings. 

"Will you have a drink?" she asked; and then I 
noticed that she had a little wooden keg hanging at her 
waist, and carried a tin cup in her hand. 

Would I have a drink? Would a duck swim? 

Of course I answered in the affirmative, and she 
turned a little spiggot in the end of the keg, and poured 
me out a cup full of — 

It was brandy, and good braudy at that. Never be- 
fore nor afterward did a drink of brandy taste so good. 
I didn't ask for any "chaser," for I didn't want any in 
the first place and there was none to be had if I wanted 

That drink of brandy nerved me up considerably, and 
I was ready for almost any sort of a surgical or other 

Heber Wells was by this time having his wound at- 
tended to. The doctor was a young fellow, a mere boy, 
apparently some medical student. Everything was 
pressed into the service in those times that could handle 
a carving knife. 

I watched the operation on Heber with some trepida- 
tion. He winced a little but did not complain. 

"Does it hurt much?" I asked, very much interested. 

"No," he replied. "It's nothing more than a snip of 
the scissors." When Heber got finished up, he bade 
me good-by, saying that he would not wait, and the 
young doctor turned to me. 

"Come, it's your turn," said he. 

I held my hand, and he examined it curiously. Then 
he stooped down and picked a stout twig. 


"Here," said he, "hold this between your teeth." 

"What's that for?" I asked. 

"Something for you to bite on," he replied coolly. 
"This is going to hurt you a little and you don't want 
to break your teeth, do you?" 

Then he took my hand in one of his hands, and a 
blood-stained knife in the other ! 


"for the love of god, shoot me." 

The man who undertook to amputate my finger and 
patch up my mangled hand, was a butcher, if there ever 
was one in the world. He did not know any more about 
surgery than a three year old child. There were so 
many wounded men to be attended to there, however, 
that they had pressed into the service everybody who 
knew enough to handle a penknife, and the fellow who 
got hold of me must have been either a medical cadet 
or a hostler. 

He went at me as if he was going to carve a piece of 
mutton chop — perhaps a pork chop might make a more 
appropriate simile, eh? He cut and sliced and muti- 
lated vc\j hand in the most horrible manner, and when 
he got to the bone he produced a pair of nippers similar 
to those used by the electricians of the present day to 
cut small wires, and with that he nipped off the broken 
bones of my finger and hand that protruded from the 

It was well that ^he had given me the twig to bite 
upon, or I should certainly have broken my teeth, for I 
chewed that thick stick into mince. The recommenda- 
tion to hold that twig between my teeth was about the 
only degree of intelligence manifested by that amateur 
human butcher. 

When he had got through with having all the fun he 
wanted out of me, he turned me over to a still less ex- 
perienced young man to bandage up the wound, and 
that was done in a bundle so large that it looked as if I 
had on a big white boxing-glove. I cannot describe 
how much that little operation pained me. I did not 
make any outward demonstration, but it was all that I 


could do to keep from crying out loud. I took satisfac- 
tion out of the stick between my teeth. 

While I was there the wounded were being taken 
past in a perpetual string, some being carried by the 
arms and legs, others on stretchers, and still more being- 
supported between two comrades. Among these were 
many of the members of the Thirteenth Regiment, and 
some of them were terribly wounded. 

I remember seeing Adjutant Thomas B. Smith, who 
was badly hurt somewhere about the body. Then they 
brought along Lieutenant George G. Whitfield, of Com- 
pany A, who was horribly wounded on the head. He 
was on a stretcher, and his head seemed one mass of 
gore, and he writhed around on the stretcher in a way 
that made one's blood run cold. Poor fellow, he died a 
couple of days later. 

Pretty soon I saw some men assisting from the field a 
man from Company C, whom I recognized as George H. 
Comer. His arm had been so badly wounded that it 
had to be cut off. Then I saw many other acquaint- 
ances come along, wounded in one way or another. 

Among these I remember George Baitzel, Freeborn 
Garrison, Charles B. Burris, David Burris, Amzi 
Brown, John C. Crawford, Andrew Leise, R. B. Man- 
ning, Jacob Mickler, William Parker, Gilbert Smith, 
and others. Some of these are still living, but others 
have answered their last roll call. 

It would be impossible to state the exact loss of the 
Thirteenth in killed and wounded at the battle of Chan- 
cellorsville. The official number has been given in a 
previous chapter, but it is known that it was consider- 
ably larger. After every battle there was always a 
number put under the head of "Missing," and it was 
never known what became of them, and these should 
perhaps be placed in the list of killed. 

On the other hand some of these that were "missing" 
after a battle turned up after many years, with a more 
or less accurate account of their doings. There have 
been many Enoch Arden cases of this nature. 

The "missing" department of the rolls of a regiment 
after a battle is one of the most wonderful and mysteri- 
ous features of a war. 


After having had my wounded hand dressed I started 
to go to the rear. To the rear is a term universally 
used as going in the other direction than the front. It 
is also always supposed that there is a haven of refuge 
and retreat somewhere in the rear, and that is the ob- 
jective point of all wounded soldiers. There was a per- 
fect procession of more or less severely wounded men 
strolling rearward and I joined this parade. 

I passed the old Chancellorsville house, which was 
General Hooker's headquarters, and was an eye-witness 
of the accident that occurred to General Hooker on that 
morning. There have been many versions of the man- 
ner in which he was wounded, but I can give the facts, 
for I was not far distant from him when it happened. 
I bad stopped to look at the old fighting general, whom 
I recognized, standing on the porch of the ancient hotel, 
half-leaning against one of the posts or pillars that held 
up the shed over the porch. 

The cannon balls and shells were flying around very 
lively, and one of them struck the post against which 
the general was leaning and broke it into splinters. The 
general naturally fell over and appeared to be stunned. 
It was reported afterward that he was struck by the 
shell, or whatever it was, but this was not the case. 
When it was found that there were no external marks 
upon him and that he did not appear to be dangerously 
hurt, it was reported that he was knocked over by the 
concussion from the passage of the shell. But this is 
not true either. He simply lost his support and fell over 
and was injured by the fall from the porch. 

Report has it that the general soon revived after the 
application of a dose of good old commissary, and that 
it made him feel so good that he took another and 
another dose, until pretty soon — but this may be a base 
libel. Like Grant, the president perhaps inquired what 
sort of whisky he drank, so that he might get some of 
the same sort for some of the other generals ! 

Not far from the Chancellorsville house was an im- 
mense barn, which had been turned into a hospital. 
My first idea was to repair to this hospital, which I 
knew to be such from the large yellow flag floating over 


Now in civilized warfare — as if any warfare couid be 
called civilized — the hospital flag is presumed to pro- 
tect the building or tent from the fire of the enemy. It 
is an unwritten law, in the interests of common human- 
ity, that hospitals shall be exempt from being shot 
at. But imagine my horror to see that the enemy had 
trained their guns on this hospital. 

It could not have been accidentally done. Shell after 
shell poured into the building, almost tearing it to 
pieces in the course of a few moments. The wounded 
men came streaming out, some helping themselves, 
others on stretchers. They were suffering untold 
agonies from their wounds, and many of them w r ere 
horribly stained with their own blood. As they came 
streaming from the hospital, the upper part of which 
had taken fire, it presented one of the most horrible 
scenes that I ever witnessed, and never before did I feel 
so thoroughly mad at the inhumanity of the gunners 
who would do such a thing. 

But the shells and the bullets came flying still faster 
and it was getting too hot for me. I concluded to get 
further back, where it was safer. 

Just about this time a remarkable revulsion of feel- 
ing came over me. From the time I had become actively 
engaged in the conflict of the battle, as previously de- 
scribed, I had not experienced the slightest emotion of 
apprehension or fear. But suddenty I began to be 
frightened. In fact I was almost panic-stricken, and 
my sole desire was to reach a place of safety. Now 
that there was a possibility of saving my life, the desiro 
of doing so was all the more intensified. I started to 
run at full speed, and for a little distance made good 
time, till I began to feel some strange pain in my legs. 
Upon the top of a hill I saw what looked like a com- 
paratively safe place behind some ammunition wagonr, 
caissons and limbers, to which the horses were attached, 
as if ready to move on a minute's notice. 

Getting down behind these, I pulled off my trousers 
and began to examine my nether extremities. I found 
my legs streaming with blood, and then found the two 
bullet wounds that I had never before suspected. I 
must have received these in the midst of the fight a 


little while before, when I was too much excited to 
notice "a little thing like that." 

While 1 was at this, there was a tremendous crash 
and explosion, followed by yells and curses, and a 
dense cloud of smoke arose to the skies. 

Looking upward, I was amazed to see the air filled 
with flying debris, and among the lot I was horrified 
to see human beings and horses mixed with the broken 
pieces of the wagons and timbers. 

Before I could recover my senses there dropped right 
alongside me a human being — or what was left of him! 

Such a sight! I nearly dropped senseless. It makes 
me shudder to this day when thinking of it. 

Could it be a human being? Could there be any life 
left in that — that thing? 

But it was alive ! It spoke ! 

"For the love of God," it said, "for the love of 
God, shoot me! Put me out of my misery!" 




"If there is any one near me," moaned the poor man, 
"if any one can bear me, let him shoot me!" 

This the poor wretch repeated time and time again. 
His voice was thick and his words could hardly he com- 
prehended, but I understood them. And I confess right 
here that if I had had a gun or pistol I would have done 
as he wished and put him out of his miseiy. 

A shell had struck one of the caissons and it had ex- 
ploded. That one shot had, as afterward ascertained, 
killed sixteen horses and twelve men, beside wounding 
nearly as many more. One-half of these had been blown 
high into the air, amid a mass of scorching flames from 
the exploding powder. 

The poor fellow before me had gone up in the midst 
of the flame, and the fire had not only burned off every 
stitch of clothing, but had roasted his flesh to a crisp. 
His hair was gone. His eyes were burned out and his 
ears had entirely disappeared. The ends of his fingers 
were roasted off to the very bone. Through one of his 
knees protruded the end of the bone. Such a sickening 
sight was never seen. 

And yet the thing was alive, and not only alive, but 
conscious, and able to pray that some one might put a 
merciful bullet through his heart. I have always re- 
gretted that I was not able to answer that prayer. I do 
not think it would have been wrong to kill a man under 
such circumstances. 

What became of that man I don't know. I could not 
stand the sight, and ran away as fast as I could, not 
even taking time to put on my trousers, which I had 
taken off to examine my own wounds. With these 


hanging over my arm I scurried down the other side of 
the hill as fast as my legs would carry me, and when I 
got to a safe place I redressed myself. It was many a 
day before I got the horrible sight from my eyes. 

Once more I joined the procession of wounded men, 
and pretty soon came to the river again and crossed on 
a pontoon bridge. 

An army was moving in opposite directions. One 
was the army of wounded men with which I was mov- 
ing. The other was composed of the fresh troops that 
were going forward to relieve those actively engaged in 

Right glad was I that I was going the way I was in- 
stead of in the opposite direction. And when I thought 
of the difference I began to feel exhilarated and joyous. 

Gradually a sense of the situation came over me, and 
it grew stronger and stronger as I walked along. 

I began to appreciate what a glorious thing it would 
be to see my name in the papers among the list of 
wounded. Here was unanswerable proof that I had 
been actively engaged in a battle. For a time at least 
there would be no more fighting for me. Only an old 
soldier can appreciate what that sensation means. 

Perhaps — and the idea struck me like a flash — per- 
haps I might get a furlough to go home. A furlough ! 
Could it be possible? 

Would I again see Paterson? Was it possible that I 
might go home with my arm in a sling, bearing the 
honorable wounds of a soldier who had bravely done 
his duty? 

These sensations are the ecstacy of a soldier's happi- 
ness, and then I experienced them for the first time. 
What were all the hardships and terrors I had gone 
through now? They all sank into insignificance. All 
that I knew was that there was a chance of my seeing 
home once more, and that for a time I would go into 
civilization and be free! 

Free! Yes, that is the word. Service in the army 
is a sort of slavery in one sense, a nightmare, an ever- 
present sense of not being your own master. And the 
feeling that one may be exempt from this slavery, this 
trammel, or whatever it may be called, is a pleasure 


that can only be comprehended, by those who have gone 
through it. 

I had a long walk that day, and it was a tiresome 
walk for me, for the wounds in my legs pained and 
weakened me. But the mental sensations of getting 
away from the active and horrible front, kept me going 
and gave me strength. 

Somehow or other it got out that the wounded soldiers 
were to repair to Aquia creek, where the general field 
hospitals were located. How far was Aquia creek? 
"About ten miles," was the answer. Ten miles — in 
Virginia ! We knew what that meant, and made up 
our minds that it was at least twenty. 

But what is twenty miles to a soldier, especialty when 
not hampered with the weight of a heavy musket and 
knapsack and accouterments? It was nothing. As a 
matter of fact, however, it was not twenty miles. Six- 
teen was nearer it. 

While we were walking along one side of the river, 
we could see the rising smoke and hear the rattling 
musketry and booming cannon on the other side of the 
river all the way from Chancellorsville to Fredericks- 
burg and below. 

I reached Aquia creek somewhere about dusk, and 
reporting to an officer was assigned to a straw bed on 
the ground in an immense hospital tent. The condi- 
tions were not very favorable for sleeping, for the tent, 
as well as many others like it scattered around, was 
filled with wounded men. The wounds, at first com- 
paratively painless, had by this time begun to inflame, 
and the men were growing restless under the agony. 
There was a perfect chorus of moans and groans, pray- 
ers and curses. 

But I was too fatigued from the day's excitement to 
stay awake and soon fell sound asleep. During the 
night some time I was awakened by the water running 
through the straw on which I lay. I listened and heard 
the rain pattering on the outside of the tent and the 
wind was blowing the canvass in a way that threatened 
to turn the whole hospital upside down. 

A terrible rainstorm had come up during the night. 

It is a singular thing that a heavy rain always fol- 


lows a big battle. It is supposed to be the result of the 
cannonading. It is upon this theory that the "rain- 
makers" recently made such an ado. I haven't the 
slightest doubt that if as much powder were spent in 
these scientific tests as there is consumed in a big battle, 
there would be a heavy rain afterward. At all events 
I think that history will prove that there never yet was 
a heavy battle that was not followed by a big rain- 

That rain-storm, by the way, was one of the causes of 
the failure of the Union troops at Chancellorsville. 
General Hooker, in his braggadocio order, had said in 
effect that he had got the enemy in such a position that 
even the Almighty could not save them. That was 
where he made a mistake. He had arranged the details 
for the battle all right and all had been done that 
human skill could do. But the very power that Gen- 
eral Hooker had derided frustrated the whole scheme, 
and turned into a defeat what might, but for the storm 
that heaven brought up, have been a glorious victory. 

After I had been wounded the Thirteenth Regiment 
remained in the fighting line till their ammunition was 
completely exhausted. The regiment was frightfully 
reduced in numbers, but the men did their duty nobly, 
and made a name for themselves that gained for them 
the soubriquet of "The Fighting Thirteenth!" 

In falling back to a position near the Chancellors- 
ville house a number of them were wounded by the 
storm of shells and bullets through which I had passed, 
as previously described. The fighting continued all 
day, but although the Thirteenth was moved hither and 
thither, it did not again become actively engaged. 

The battle was continued on the following morning 
in a desultory sort of a way, but pretty soon the rain 
began to interfere with the operations. The roads and 
fields became so deep with mud that the artillery and 
ammunition wagons could not be moved, and the river 
began to rise so rapidly that the current threatened to 
wash away the pontoon bridges. It was impossible to 
bring to the front any more ammunition or provisions, 
and a further delay might prevent the retreat of the 
troops to the other side of the river. 


So, instead of following up the battle, the army had 
to retreat to the other side of the river to escape being 
hemmed in and cut up completely. This left the field 
in the possession of the enemy practically, although 
they were also cut up too badly to make any effort to 
follow us. The Northern army was in decidedly the 
best condition, and it was one of the greatest mishaps 
of the war that they were not in a position to follow up 
the enemy and annihilate them then and there, as might 
unquestionably have been done, but for the interference 
of the great storm. 

As it was, the entire army was ordered back to the 
same camps they had occupied before starting out for the 
Chancellorsville campaign. 

How different was that backward march from the 
one to the front only a few days before ! The roads 
were heavy with mud. The rain came down in tor- 
rents, dampening both the bodies and spirits of the men. 
There were sorrowful hearts in the ranks as the com- 
rades looked around and failed to see their former com- 
panions. No oue knew the fate of his comrades, of 

What had become of this one and that one, was the 
question that none could answer. They were last seen 
at this place or that place. Some remembered seeing 
some shot, but whether wounded or killed, no one could 
tell. To all intents and purposes all the absentees were 
killed. It took days before the real fate of the missing- 
could be ascertained, and never was the fate of some of 
them discovered. 

With thinned ranks, downcast, tired out, discour- 
aged, what was left of the Thirteenth Regiment of New 
Jersey Volunteers filed into the same old camp they had 
occupied at Stafford Court House, and took possession 
of the same old log huts. 

Those who participated in that return said afterward 
that it felt like coming home from a funeral. My faith- 
ful "pard," John Butterworth, had the whole bunk to 
himself, for I lay under that rain-soaked tent at Aquia 
creek and the report was in the regiment that I had 
been killed. 


Indeed the first papers after the battle had my name 
among the list of the dead, and every once in a while 
when I feel in a peculiarly cheerful mood, and want 
something to amuse me, I get out the old files and read 
my own obituary ! 




The time I lay in the rain-soaked hospital tent at 
Aquia creek was about as tough an experience as I had 
yet passed through. It was impossible to go out with- 
out getting wet to the skin, while the inside of the tent 
was cold and damp, and it was so filled with wounded 
men that there was hardly room to get around. 

The best thing that we could do under these circum- 
stances was to remain in bed, and that is just what the 
most of us did. When I say "bed" of course I mean 
nothing more than the pile of straw on the wet ground 
upon which we lay. 

The wounded men lay in a row along each side of the 
tent, leaving a sort of aisle in the middle through which 
the surgeons and attendants could pass. The wounds 
began to become very painful as the time passed, and 
the groans and moans of the poor victims were unceas- 
ing day and night. Every once in a while the doctors 
would have to amputate a leg or an arm or perform 
some other surgical operation in one end of the tent, and 
that added to our mental torture. Although wounded 
and feverish, the fare that we received was little better 
than the regular army rations out in the field, and tak- 
ing it altogether it was a fearfully uncomfortable and 
painful experience. 

After about three days, however, on a cold and damp 
night, although the rain had stopped, word was passed 
through the tent that a number of us were to be trans- 
ferred to Washington, and I happened to be one of the 
men thus favored. 

We were taken down to the dock and placed on board 
a steamboat. We were laid on the bare deck of the 


steamer, as closely together as we could lie, but it was 
a dry place, compared with the tent, although very 
draughty. Pretty soon the throbbing of the engines of 
the steamboat commenced. It was welcome music to 
my ears. It was the first sound of civilization. It was 
so different from the taps of the drum, the blast of the 
bugle, the rattle of musketry and the boom of cannon, 
that it sounded like veritable music, and it soon lulled 
me into a sound slumber. 

I never awoke till morning. When I opened my eyes, 
the sun streamed into the windows at the side of the 
boat, and at a distance I could see some buildings. 
Getting up to take a more careful observation my eyes 
were delighted by the familiar sight of the unfinished 
dome of the National Capitol, and the half-completed 
shaft of the Washington monument. 

I was again in Washington. 

We were removed to the various hospitals that had 
been built at the capital. These were simply rough 
barracks built in wings, but commodious enough to ac- 
commodate many thousand wounded men. And from 
the way the wounded men were being taken into them 
it seemed that it would not take long to fill them all up. 
Wounded men arrived by the hundreds, by boat and by 
cars, and then for the first time we begam to appreciate 
the vast number of soldiers that had been mutilated in 
the battle of Chancellorsville. 

I was taken to the Lincoln hospital. There was a 
good deal of red tape in the army at all times, and it 
even extended to the operation of assigning wounded 
men to the different hospitals. I remember that it was 
late in the afternoon that I arrived at Lincoln Hospital, 
and it was night before I had been assigned to my par- 
ticular ward and cot. 

My name and regiment and the address of my friends 
at home were Avritten on a piece of paper and stuck at 
the head of my cot on the wall. This was done in the 
case of all the men, and was of course for the purpose of 
identification in case anything happened that rendered 
it necessary to send word home or make a report to the 

A sister of charity, God bless her! — a mere girl at 


that, who would have been very pretty had she taken 
off her big white bonnet and fixed up her hair a little, 
came to me and calmly told me that she thought I had 
better go to bed. I am inclined to think that if my face 
was not too dirty to show it at the time, I actually 
blushed a little as I politely told her I would retire if 
she could manage to hide herself for a few moments. 
Smilingly she disappeared. 

I proceeded to undress. Then it struck me that this 
was the first time that I undressed to go to bed since I 
enlisted. To tell the truth I felt rather ashamed. A 
soldier in the field never thinks of takiug off all his 
clothing to go to bed, and there was a freedom or loose- 
ness about it, if you please, that felt very odd. When 
I opened the bed and saw the clean, white sheets, it 
seemed a sacrilege to muss them up. 

But I hastened into the cot and pulled the clothes up 
around my chin, and oh! how comfortable it did feel! 
It was the first time in about nine months that I had 
been undressed and in bed, and the sensation seemed to 
be as strange as if it were the first time I had ever done 
it in my life. 

Pretty soon the sister came along with a glass of 
something and told me to drink it. It was eggnog ! 
Yum-yum-yum-yum ! Did ever anything taste so good? 
It was nectar fit for the gods. I kept my lips glued to 
the edge of the glass as long as there was a drop of the 
precious stuff left. Then I felt as if I would like to 
swallow the glass. 

The sister told me to go to sleep, and I think I obeyed 
this instruction in a few moments, for pretty soon the 
warmth of the liquor in tho punch began to flow through 
my veins and I think that I never before nor" since felt 
so supremely happy or comfortable. 

Some time during the night I was awakened by a 
racket. The ward in which I was located contained a 
number of severely wounded men. The racket was 
caused by the efforts of the attendant to quiet a poor 
fellow who had become delirious. He had had both 
legs amputated just above the knees, and in his delir- 
ium had arisen from his cot and was trying to walk 
down the aisle on his mutilated stumps ! The effort tore 
the bandages off and the blood flowed on the floor. 


"Get that man quieted at once," exclaimed one of 
the surgeons, who had hastened out of his office to see 
what was the matter. "If you don't act quickly he 
will bleed to death." 

"You're a liar," was the surprising answer from the 
wounded man. "You're a liar! You can't kill Jim 

Murphy. There isn't a rebel in the country that 

could kill Jim Murphy.** 

"But you'll bleed to death if you don't remain quiet 
and let these nurses attend to your bandages," said the 

"No, I'll be ■ if I do," replied the wounded man. 

"I don't intend to die, and ye can't kill me. Jim Mur- 
phy's too tough for ye all!" 

They got the plucky fellow back into his cot and tied 
him in, much to his disgust. There were other rackets 
in progress down the ward, for the wounds had begun 
to make the men feverish generally. I will only refer 
to one case as a contrast with that of "Jim Murphy." 
It was a fellow who had been shot through the thigh, 
and although it was a painful injury it was by no means 
dangerous. But the man was frightened half to death 
and had made up his mind to die anyway. 

"I tell you, doctor," said he, plaintively, "I am go- 
ing to die. I will never get over this. I have received 
a mortal wound." 

"Oh, nonsense," replied the doctor. "You are not 
fatally hurt hj any means. You are not half as badly 
wounded as this fellow with both legs off, and he says 
that they can't kill him." 

"No, you spalpeen," replied the legless man, "they 
can't kill me. Don't ye be a baby. Brace up and 
don't die to satisfy the spalpeens." 

But this did not pacify the other. The trivially 
wounded man lost his heart and made up his mind 
that he was going to die, and he did. He died that 
very night, and the doctors said that it was not from the 
wound at all, but from the fact that the fellow had lost 
his nerve and given up, and all the doctors on the face 
of the earth could not save a man under such circum- 

The legless man, true to his word, kept up his pluck 


and got well, and for all that I know he is living yet. 
Possibly he may be one of those who are scuffling along 
on the New York sidewalks, picking up a handsome 
living from charitably disposed people. 

I simply relate this instance to illustrate a matter 
that had many parallels during the war. A grievously 
wounded man would invariably recover if he kept up 
his pluck and his nerve, while many a man, whose 
wounds should not have caused his death, died, simply 
because he gave up. The influence of the mind over 
the body was never more strongly shown than in such 
cases as these, and there is not an old army surgeon 
who could not relate hundreds of similar instances. 

In a day or so my wound began to pain me fearfully, 
and swelled bigger and bigger till it became as large as 
my head. I grew feverish and somewhat delirious. 
The gentle sister who waited on me brought me many 
milk punches and cup custards, and if she had been my 
blood sister she could not have manifested greater solic- 
itude for my welfare. My swollen hand was placed in 
an oil-silk bag and filled with ice, so that it was prac- 
tically frozen. 

But no use. Gangrene had set in, and old soldiers 
know what that means. One morning the doctor came 
to me and after examining my hand, shook his head 
and gravely remarked : 

"It's no use, my boy; that hand has got to come off, 
if you want to live. ' ' 

If the surgeon had given me a blow on the head with 
a sledgehammer I could not have received a greater 




When the surgeon told me that he would have to cut 
off my hand to save my life, it was, as stated, a terrible 
shock. I had lain there and suffered, with my swollen 
arm incased in ice, frozen stiff and strapped to a chair 
beside my cot, and suffered untold tortures, but had not 
made a murmur. But the mental suffering occasioned 
by the startling information that I would have to go 
through the world for the rest of my life with only one 
haud, was a thousand times worse than anything that I 
had yet experienced. 

As soon as I could recover my voice, I asked : 

"Is there no hope of saving it, doctor? The loss of 
that hand would ruin me. It would make it impossi- 
ble for me to ever work again at my trade." 

"What is your trade?" he asked. 

"A printer." 

"Hump! That's bad. I'll see what can be done 
about it this afternoon." 

"This afternoon?" I asked. It seemed a dreadfully 
short notice. 

"Yes, my boy," answered the surgeon, kindly; 
"whatever is done must be done without further delay. " 

I shuddered at the idea of having my hand ampu- 
tated, even though it was the left hand. I reflected 
how I would look going through life with one hand. 
How would I ever earn my living? I couldn't hold a 
composing stick and set type with one hand. Then I 
suddenly remembered my fiddle. How could I play 
the violin with one hand — and that instrument was one 
of the jo3 r s of my life. I am not saying how much joy 
it must have been to those who were compelled to listen 
to my practicing ! 


Then the good sister came along with another milk 
punch. It was a dandy. I imagined it must have been 
three-quarters brandy. In a few moments I felt so 
good that I didn't care if they cut off both hands and 
threw in one leg for good measure ! I was soon sleep- 
ing the sleep of the just and virtuous, as soundly as if 
I had been given a dose of knock-out drops. 

Some time during the afternoon I was awakened by 
the surgeon's assistant, who had come to take me to the 
operating-room at the end of the ward. Now the sur- 
geons in the hospital in war times were no prohibition- 
ists. They believed in the efficacy of good old whisky. 
And that it served a good purpose there can be no ques- 

The first thing the doctor did, therefore, was to pour 
out for me a regular old-fashioned bumper of Bourbon, 
a brimming glassful that would have made Weary 
Waggles' eyes glisten with joy. I swallowed it, and 
sent a chaser after it, and in a few moments felt as if I 
didn't care for all the surgeons' knives in the world. 

The surgeon, and by the way he was a Dr. Brown, of 
Carlisle, i onnsylvania, and as expert a surgeon as ever 
lived, besides being a kind-hearted and humane gentle- 
man, unwrapped the bandages off my swollen hand and 
arm and critically examined the wound. 

"What do you think of it, doctor?" I asked, some- 
what nervously. 

"I may save the hand yet," replied the surgeon. "I 
can't tell, however, till I cut into it a little to see how 
far the gangrene has extended." 

"Try and save it if you can," said I, mournfully. I 
had a terrible dread of losing the hand. Perhaps in the 
first excitement of the battle I would not have thought 
so much about it, but now that I had time to refect 
it was different. And I had had an opportunity to 
notice the crippled and helpless condition of the other 
fellows who had been forced to part with that very neces- 
sary part of the human anatomy. 

"Better try a little more of this, my boy," said the 
doctor, pouring me out another generous bumper of the \ 

It struck me that the surgeon was determined _that I 


should get gloriously drunk. But I didn't care. If 
there ever was a time when I felt like getting a first- 
class jag, as it is called nowadays, it was just then and 
there. This, however, was not Dr. Brown's intention, 
as I discovered afterward. My system was run down, 
and it was necessary that I should be stimulated to go 
through with the operation. 

I was strapped on the top of the operating table. The 
good sister stood at my side, holding a basin of water 
and a sponge. The surgeon's assistant got a sponge 
saturated with chloroform. It was the first time I had 
ever taken an anaesthetic. 

A smothering sensation ! A brief struggle for air. A 
feeling that I was going up, up, up ! . . . 

The next moment — so it seemed — I found myself in 
the grasp of three men. The table was upset, the sis- 
ter, picking herself up from the floor with her face cov- 
ered with blood and her usually white and spotless 
bonnet crumpled out of shape, and I struggling there 
with my wounded hand a mass of blood and gore, with 
the bandage knocked off. 

I was completely bewildered. And what struck me 
the more strangely was the fact that everybody was 
laughing. Even the sister was smiling as she picked 
herself up from the floor. Dr. Brown said it was the 
"liveliest time he had since the war began." 

It must have been, judging from my appearance and 
the looks of things about me ! 

It seems that the combined effects of the whisky and 
the chloroform had been too rich for my blood. As ex- 
plained afterward to me, after the operation had been 
performed, and I was reviving from the effects of the 
anaesthetic, I had become delirious, and the first thing 
I had done had been to knock down the sister of charity 
with a blow of my wounded fist. This had torn off the 
bandages. The upsetting of the things in the little 
operating room was caused by the struggle the doctor 
and his attendants had in subduing me. 

I knew nothing of what had occurred, of course. 
When I looked at my hand and saw that it was there 
yet, I imagined that the operation had not yet been com- 
menced, and asked the doctor what was the matter that 
it had not been done? 


"It's done," replied Dr. Brown. "The operation is 
finished " 

"But the hand's still there?" I asked, glancing at the 
bloody looking object. 

"Yes," replied he. "I think we can save it. It is 
not so bad as we supposed. You will find that it is 
narrower than it was. I took out the bone on the side, 
below the base of the little finger, and got the end of 
the gangrene. You will be all right yet. Your hand 
will be saved." 

"Thank God!" I exclaimed, fervently and thank- 
fully. "Doctor, I'll never forget you for this." 

"But you will have to have it fixed over again," said 
he. "You have knocked it all to pieces. The stitches 
have come out and I will have to sew it over again. Do 
you think you can stand that, or will I give you another 
dose of chloroform?" 

"Oh, I can stand that, I guess," I replied. "No 
more chloroform for me, if you please. I think too 
much of the sister here to run the risk again. ' ' 

The sister smiled. "Oh, that was nothing," she said 

So the doctor proceeded to "sew me up." There 
were only three or four stitches, but fury ! didn't it hurt ! 
Those who have undergone surgical operations all agree 
that the most painful part of it is the sticking through 
of the needle and drawing through the silken thread. 
It is the most sensitive part of the body, the skin. But 
I got through with it all right. 

Then I began to have an atrocious headache, and felt 
like completely collapsing. The doctor's suggestion 
that I take another drink of whisky almost made me 
gag. "No," I replied; "one drunk a day is enough for 

I was put to bed, and pretty soon had a raging fever. 
For two days and night I lay there on the cot, not 
caring whether I lived or died. The afterclaps of the 
operation were worse than the operation itself, a 
thousand times. 

But youth and health will triumph pretty quickly 
with a boy of nineteen years, and I rapidly came to my- 
self again. Then I realized the inestimable service the 


good sister had rendered while I lay so low. She had 
sat by the side of my cot day and night and attended to 
my every want and desire. And anybody who has sat 
by a sick bed appreciates what that means. 

When I got better the sister did not keep around me 
as much as while I was dangerously feverish. But she 
came now and then, with a glass of eggnog or a cup 
custard or some other dainty, such as they give conva- 
lescents. One night she came through the ward about 
10 o'clock. She was on her last errand before retiring, 
and seeing me awake, stopped, took a seat at the side of 
the cot, and softly asked me how I felt? 

The ward was very quiet. Everybody seemed to be 
asleep ; with the exception of the lonely and half -asleep 
guard at the end of the room, there was no one there 
but the sister. 

Now I had just about fallen half in love with that 
sister! And who would wonder? She was the first 
woman I had spoken to in months. She had treated 
me like a mother, and her kindness had been ceaseless. 
I felt more than grateful. I felt affectionate, as one 
would to his affianced. And as yet not a word had 
passed between us that was not strictly professional, so 
to speak. This time I decided to go a little further. 

"I am glad that you have stopped here to-night," 
said I. 

"Why?" she asked. 

"Because you have been very kind to me, and I don't 
know how to thank you." 

"It is my duty to be kind to these poor fellows," she 

"Yes, but I have been watching pretty closely, and I 
imagine that you have been specially kind to me." 

The sister dropped her eyes — and blushed. 

Now for a sister of charity to drop her ej T es and blush 
is something out of the usual run. Generalby they are 
as implacable and emotionless as marble. They are 
trained to be so. But here was an exception. I felt 
encouraged at the sign and proceeded. 

"Sister," said I, "will you do me a favor?" 

"What is it?" she asked, looking at me wonder- 


"Will — will you please take off your big white bon- 

She blushed again. 

"I can't do that," she said gently; "it's against the 

' ' Oh, never mind the rules, ' ' I said. ' ' Take it off, and 
do me that little favor, won't you, please?" 

"I— I " 

"Oh, please do." 

She glanced about nervously, hesitated a moment, 
and then, with her face crimson with color, unfastened 
the broad white strings under her chin, and with a 
graceful movement threw back her bonnet. 

In doing this it got caught in her hair somehow, and 
down to her very waist tumbled a luxurious mass of 
wavy brown tresses. I looked up and saw a vision of 
perfect loveliness ! 


"crushed again." 

"There's many a noble heart under a ragged coat," 
and there is doubtless many a handsome face mas- 
queraded by an exaggerated and distorted white bonnet 
worn by a sister of charity, but never did I expect to 
find such an object of beauty in the little sister who 
now stood before me in all her loveliness. 

To be sure, I had become acquainted with her gentle 
manner, her soft touch and her soothing voice, but I 
had all along imagined that she was naturally as 
homely as she looked in her solemn garb. Sisters of 
charity all look alike, owing to their peculiar dress, 
which seems specially designed to make them seem un- 
attractive, but in this instance at least I discovered that 
there was beauty behind the plain exterior, and ever 
since when I have met one of them attired in the homely 
garb of the order I have involuntarily wondered how 
the sister would look if she were attired in ordinary 

Inasmuch as beauty is the pride of woman, what a 
sacrifice it must be for them to thus bury their charms 
and devote their lives to the mission of benevolence and 
the alleviation of human suffering! When one consid- 
ers these things he must have a still higher regard for 
the self-sacrificing spirit of those who throw aside the 
pleasures of the world and devote themselves to an ex- 
istence of slavery to good work, as it were. 

When I saw the sister standing beside me that night 
in all her loveliness, with her flushed face, and her 
thick tresses hanging down her back, I was speechless 
with amazement. Embarrassed, she proceeded to read- 
just her hair, and as she did so her sleeves slipped back 


to her elbows, displaying an arm that would have set a 
sculptor wild with enthusiasm. I quickly put out my 
hand to stop her. 

"Don't put it up, please," said I. "Let your hair 
remain as it is." 

"But I must not," she said. "It is against the rules. 
But," she added coyly, "why do you ask that?" 

"If you knew the difference it makes," said I, "if 
you appreciated how beautiful " 

"Sh," she interrupted. "You must not talk that 
way. You ought to be ashamed of yourself." 

"But I'm not," I replied. "A young man who 
wouldn't admire you as you look now, ought to be 
ashamed of himself. But no one could help it, I guess. ' ' 

"Sh, you mustn't," she repeated. But I noticed 
that she was not in a particular hurry to put up her hair 
again. She dallied in the operation. She was a woman, 
if she was a sister of charity. 

"What is your name, sister?" I asked her. 

"Sister Felicia. You know that." 

"Yes, I know that. But what is your real name?" 

"It would not be right for me to tell that." 

"Oh, it wouldn't do any harm." I insisted. I reached 
out and took her hand. She did not withdraw it. I 
was making good progress, and my heart went pitty- 
pat. I had fallen in love with the sister ! 

"My right name — is — I don't suppose it will do any 
harm to tell, although it is against the rules — my right 
name is Nellie Carleton." 

"Where do you iive?" I asked her. 

"I shouldn't answer that, but I will tell you that my 
home is in Philadelphia." 

"Philadelphia, eh? That's where the soldiers are al- 
ways so nicely treated. It is the city of Brotherly 

"Tell me," I continued, "what made you, such an at- 
tractive girl, perhaps surrounded with everything to 
make life enjoyable, lay aside your toilets and dresses 
of civil life, to" put on that homely gown and devote 
yourself for life to such work as this? It does not seem 

"Excuse me," she answered. "I haven't devoteq 


my life to this, by any means. I am not a regular sis- 
ter of charity. I have not taken the veil. I can leave 
and return home at any time I desire. I only volun- 
teered, with some other girls, because the government 
wanted nurses. The men are doing their duty, and I 
thought it only right that the women should do their 
part, in the best manner possible, and I could not see 
any better way than to assist in alleviating the suffer- 
ing of the sick and wounded. ' ' 

"And then you are going back home when your serv- 
ices are no longer required?" 

"Certainly. My father is a rich man, and my mother 
is not in good health, and I will return as soon as pos- 
sible to look after my little sisters." 

"Are they all as pretty as " 

"Sh," she interrupted. "No more flattery, please." 

"I can't help that, but if you do not like it, I will 

To tell the truth she did not look as if she really 
wanted me to stop. She was a woman ! 

"Nellie," said I, but she promptly interrupted me: 

"Sister, if you please." 

"Well, then, sister," I said, smiling, "why have you 
been so kind to me since I have been here?" 

"I have tried to be kind to all these poor fellows," 
she replied. 

"Yes, but I have noticed carefully, and I think you 
have been specially kind to me." 

She blushed deeply. 

"Havel?" she asked quietly. 

"Yes, you have. You know you have been." She 
seemed embarrassed considerably at this. 

"I don't know that— that " 

"It makes no difference," I insisted. "You have 
been specially kind to me and you have made me feel 
very kind — I trust you will forgive me for saying it, 
but I think you have been almost affectionate in your 
treatment and kindness." 

Her face turned crimson, and she proceeded to put up 
her hair and did not stop till she had pinned it up, 
and took up her ugly bonnet as if to put it on. 

"Don't put that horrible headgear on just yet," I 


said, taking her hand again. "I want to talk a little 
more with you. ' ' 

"Then don't talk any more nonsense, or I will go 
away," she said coquettishly, just as any girl would 
have done. She was a woman ! 

I talked of various things, about her present life and 
the terrible strain it must be on a girl accustomed to 
ease and luxury, and complimented her on her noble 
conduct in giving her services to the good work in the 
manner she was doing, and all that. This seemed to 
please her and to re-establish the friendly relations be- 
tween us. Finally I got back on the old strain again. 

"Nellie," said I, once more — and this time she did 
not interrupt, to my great joy — "Nellie, why have you 
been specially kind and attentive to me?" 

"Because — because — " she stammered hesitatingly. 

"Well, 'because why?' " I asked her. 

"Because — because I was attracted somehow to you 
the first time I saw you. ' ' 

No girl could have made this winsome remark in a 
prettier way. I thought that every nerve in mj body 
was afire with ecstasy. I was surely in love with her. 
I felt that she must have a warm feeling toward me, 

"Why, Nellie, why did you feel that way?" I asked 
her, giving her hand a little — just a little squeeze. 

"I have a brother in the army somewhere," she said. 

A brother! What the dickens did I care if she had a 
dozen brothers in the army? What had that to do with 

"Well?" said I, hardly knowing what was coming, 
and yet involuntarily suspicious. 

"And," she continued, "my brother bears a remark- 
able likeness to you. When I first saw you I thought 
it was he, and my heart went into my throat." 

"And when you found your mistake, you took me for 
a substitute, I suppose?" 

"Hardly that," she replied blushingly. "But I 
thought perhaps my brother might some time be in the 
same situation as you are, and I hoped that some other 
sister would be kind to him. I treated you as I wished 
my brother to be treated should he be wounded." 

"And I suppose when you saw a fellow that looked 


like your brother you thought you would be specially 
kind to him?" 

"Yes, that's it." 

"You love your brother, don't you, Nellie?" 

"Why, of course I do." 

"And do you think you could love the fellow who 
looks like your brother?" 

"Sir!" she exclaimed, pulling her hand from mine 
and drawing back. 

"Well, I said it," said I, "and I repeat it. Do you 
think you could love me?" 

"What do you mean, sir, by such talk as that?" 

I immediately saw that I had put my foot in it — both 
feet, in fact! But I wasn't the fellow to back down in 
the face of the enemy — particularly if the enemy be one 
of the prettiest girls the Lord ever made. 

"There's no use beating about the bush," I said. "I 
have said what I mean and I will stick to it. You 
know that I love you, and I pimply wanted to know if 
you loved me. It was only a perfectly natural question 
to ask, after what we have said," 

"I have made a mistake, " she replied, half -sorrow- 
fully, I thought. "I have let this interview go entirely 
too far. You have misconstrued all I have said and 

"Then you do not care for me, after all?" 

"Care for you!" she exclaimed, and here she was 
more womanlike than ever. "Why, you are the big- 
gest fool I ever saw. Care for you? Of course not! I 
only thought I saw a resemblance to my brother, and 
that made me feel like taking special care of you while 
you were too feeble to take care of yourself." 

"Then what you did was not for me, but for your 
brother?" I asked lugubriously. 

"That's it exactly," she replied. "Good -evening!" 

Crushed again ! 

As I caught the last glimpse of the pretty sister's gray 
skirt as it swished around the screen at the end of the 
ward, I was conscious of three separate and distinct 

One was a sense of intense disappointment — a sense 
of having lost something on which I had fondly set my 


Th9 next sensation was that I had made a great mis- 
take — that I had been making a fool of myself. I had 
been entirely too precipitous. A girl's heart isn't; cap- 
tured in such a sudden manner as that. But I was 
young and inexperienced then ! I learned more about 
' ' woman and her ways' ' later in life. 

But as intimated, there was a third sensation. It was 
this: It was that if I should ever meet that homely 
brother of the sister's — the fellow that looked like me — I 
would kill him on sight. 

The idea of falling in love with a girl who was kind 
to you simply because you resembled her big fool of a 
gawky brother! It was too much! One of us must 

But fortunately for that homely brother of hers he 
has always managed to keep out of my way, i»,nd has 
thus escaped with his miserable life. 

I did not see much of the sister the next morning. 
She passed through the ward a number of times, and 
always passed by without stopping or recognizing me. 
Toward noon she came to the side of my cot and calmly 
asked if I wanted anything. 

I looked up into her face, but her eyes were averted. 
She acted as if she had never seen me before in my life. 
She was a woman ! 

Pretty soon I became somewhat convalescent and was 
able to be up and around, with my arm in a sling, and 
could help myself at meals, so that it was not necessary 
that I should be waited upon. Necessarily I met the 
sister daily and several times a day, but nothing except 
the most commonplace remarks ever passed between us. 

We were apparently perfect strangers. I thought at 
times that she would make some reference to the inter- 
view that night, but she did not refer to it, and I was 
afraid to, for fear of some sort of an explosion. 

Thus matters went on for three or four weeks, till one 
morning a number of us were notified that we were to 
be removed to a Northern hospital. Another big battle 
was expected , and all the convalescents were to be re- 
moved to make room for a fresh batch of mangled 
human beings from another bloody field of conflict. 

It was one afternoon about 3 o'clock that we were 


told to get ready, and an hour later the "invalid squad" 
was ordered in line to proceed to the depot. I was not 
tit all averse to leaving Washington, but I still had a 
desire to have another word with Nellie, the pretty sis- 
ter of charity. 

The opportunity presented itself at the last moment, 
just as I was gathering up my few things from the side 
of the cot on which I had passed so many painful — and 
so many happy hours, it must be confessed. 

The sister came to me to bid me good-by. 

"So you are going away," said she. I thought that 
I noticed a tinge of regret in the inflection of her voice. 

"Yes, we are going somewhere up North. Wil- 
mington, I hear. Are you sorry to have me leave?" 

The sister flushed a little, but replied coolly : 

"Of course I am sorry. It is always sorrowful to 
part with friends." 

"Then I am a friend of yours?" 

"Of course. I am a friend of all the soldiers." 

"That is altogether too general," said I. "Can't you 
say that you are especially sorry to part with me?" 

"Well, yes, as I told j~ou before, you look so much 
like my brother that I shall miss you more than some 
of the others." 

Confound that brother again. 

"Then you only care for me because I resemble your 

"I told you that before." 

"Yes, I know you did. But I wish that you cared 
for me for myself. ' ' 

"There you go again. You men are such fools." 

"Thanks. You are complimentary. But really, 
Nellie " 

"Sister, please." 

"Well, then, sister, do you think we shall ever meet 
again? Could you consent to correspond with me?" 

"Why can't you be sensible?" she asked in reply. 
"What is the sense of all this ridiculous talk? You 
know we are not likely ever to meet again. You know 
that our lives are to be apart, and that after you have 
gone you will forget me entirely or only remember me 
occasionally as the sister of charity that took care of 
you while you were wounded and helpless." 


"No, you are mistaken in that," I replied. "I shall 
always remember you as Nellie, and not as the sister of 

"And I shall always remember you," she said, "as 
a great foolish boy, but," she smilingly added, "I hope 
that you will be successful and have good luck and be 
happy " 

"How can I be happy without you to — — " 

"Oh, you get out, you big goose," she said, laughing 
outright. "Good-by." 

And then she turned away, and I had to fall in line, 
and was a moment later on the way to the depot with 
my companions. I turned and saw the sister standing 
on the steps of the hospital entrance, with a quizzical 
smile on her face, and so I remember her to this day, 
for I have never seen her nor heard from her since. 

That was the first time I ever tried to make love to a 
sister of charity, and it was the last. It wasn't a suc- 
cess. But then as she said herself she was not a regular 
sister of charity. 

From love making, however, I was suddenly precipi- 
tated into the stern realities of soldier life. We were 
marched up through the dust} 7 streets of Washington — 
they were not the magnificent streets they are now by 
any means — and finally reached the depot. It was late 
in the afternoon. The miserable depot was crowded 
with wounded soldiers, northward bound. 

Of course there was no train ready for us to take. 
There never was. Here were hundreds of wounded and 
feeble soldiers, waiting in that stuffy depot, in the hot- 
test weather, and it seemed impossible to get even a 
drink of water. We had to remain there all night and 
till afternoon on the following day, and I don't think I 
ever put in a worse experience. After the luxuries and 
comforts we had enjoyed at the hospital, the contrast 
was terrible. We had some miserable black coffee and 
some of that tough "salt horse" dealt out to us, but 
none of us had the appetite to eat such stuff, 

Finally we were embarked. They were not exactly 
cattle cars, but they were little better. The cars that 
used to be run on the Erie emigrant trains to the West 
were about the sort we had. The ride northward was 


not altogether unpleasant, for the breeze that came in 
through the ear windows was a decided improvement 
over the stuffy and suffocating air that we had heen 
breathing in that miserable depot. 

Just before dusk the train stopped in the depot at 
Wilmington, Delav/are, and we were removed to a hos- 
pital so finely located, so beautiful, and with such sur- 
soundings that we thought we had dropped into heaven. 

But of this I will have to wait till the next chapt 




As said before, we arrived at the hospital in Wil- 
mington about dark on a beautiful warm day early in 
June, 1863. I don't remember at this late day what 
sort of a building it was, but I do remember that it was 
a beautiful place. To the best of my recollection it was 
a church that had been temporarily transformed into a 

In those days everything was utilized for such pur- 
poses. The number of wounded men and soldiers who 
had become sick through the exposures of army life, 
was something terrible. Statistics show that ten times 
as many soldiers are disabled from sickness as from 
bullets. I have given some idea of the immense num- 
ber of the wounded. Add the sick, and the number be- 
comes frightful. 

So eveiything possible was utilized for the purpose of 
hospital work, even to churches, and if my memory 
serves me right the hospital in Wilmington was an 
Episcopal church that had been turned into a hospital. 
It was a prett} r , ivy-clad building of stone, surrounded 
by large shade trees, and the whole atmosphere was 
cool and pleasant. It was a great improvement in this 
respect on the rough board arrangement of wards that 
composed the Lincoln Hospital in Washington, which 
stood out on the flats, unprotected from the sun. 

We were assigned to snowy white cots, and given a 
most excellent supper. But what struck us all was the 
number of pretty girls who seemed to have something 
to do with the place. There were no sisters of charity 
there. They were all women in ordinary dress of life, 
and a large majority of them were young ladies. And 


they were young ladies of refinement, of apparently the 
better walks of life. 

During the evening we had a large number of lady 
visitors, and if all the soldiers felt as I did their hearts 
were beating with admiration. Now note the transi- 

In Virginia the only specimen of women we saw 
were of the commonest class. They were what the 
darkies used to call "the poor white trash." They were 
women whoso surroundings were those of the direst 
poverty. Their dresses, if dresses they could be called, 
were nothing more than old bed quilts sewed together. 
They were sunburned and untidy, and anything but 

In Washington all the women we saw around the 
hospital were dresssed as sisters of charity, and al- 
though, as I have described before, there were some 
very pretty women disguised under that homely dress, 
yet the eye had become accustomed to the somber garb, 
and woman had somehow or other become associated 
with the idea of extreme plainness and simplicity. 

But in Wilmington! There we for the first time 
since we left home were surrounded with ladies dressed 
in fashionable attire, and the light and bright-colored 
dresses that the ladies of the Southern cities wear in the 
month of June are bewitchingly fascinating. 

White and pink dresses, straw hats trimmed with gay- 
colored ribbons, and all those delicate little nothings 
that go to make up the summer girl, were displayed 
before us, and delighted our hungry eyes. I remember 
thinking how pretty my little sister of charity friend in 
Washington would have looked thus attired, but, truth 
to tell, I almost forgot her in the presence of the hand- 
some young ladies that flitted around the hospital ward 
that evening. 

One of them, an extremely pretty girl of about my 
own age or perhaps a little younger, took a seat by the 
side of my cot, and we had a long and delightful talk. 
She was very friendly and unusually intimate for such 
a short acquaintance, but that was a pleasant waj- those 
Wilmington girls had, and as I looked around I saw 
that nearly every soldier in the hospital was similarly 


engaged in pleasant conversation with one of Wilming- 
ton's fair daughters. 

I am rather inclined to think that my particular girl 
was somewhat of a flirt from the way she talked, but 
she found a match in me in that respect, I can assure 
the reader. Before she departed we had become quite 
chummy. She had told me the street and number 
where she lived, and said that she had two other sisters, 
and they would all be glad to have me call on them. I 
promised to get off the following day and call on them, 
and went to sleep to dream of pretty angels in white 
dresses and pink ribbons in their hair. 

But alas ! Wilmington was a sort of halfway house, 
a stopping place on the way to Philadelphia, where the 
principal hospitals were located. I did not get to see 
my fair visitor in the morning after all, for at an early 
hour we were ordered to fall in again, and to our in- 
tense disgust we were marched to the depot to take the 
train for Philadelphia. My girl was there, however, 
to bid us good-by. She said it was "really too bad" 
that we had to leave so soon, for she would "dearly 
have loved" to have me call to see her and her sisters. 

I did not care a rap for her sisters, whom I had never 
seen, but I was really sorry that I had not the oppor- 
tunity to accept her invitation, and told her so so warmly 
that she blushed. Just as the conversation was getting 
peculiarly interesting we heard the signal to get on the 
cars, and a moment later we were moving out of the 
depot amid enthusiastic cheers on the part of the men 
and waving of handkerchiefs by the ladies. 

Nothing unusual or particularly interesting occurred 
on the ride to Philadelphia. It is only a short distance and 
the trip took but a short time. There were perhaps two 
or three hundred convalescent wounded men in the 
train besides some who were still in a dangerous con- 
dition. These were taken care of first, and carefully. 

Here is where the beautiful ambulance system of 
Philadelphia came in useful. I think that I have re- 
ferred to this feature somewhere before. Each engine 
company was equipped with an ambulance of the most 
elegant character. The exteriors of these vehicles were 
painted artistically to represent battle scenes and pathetic 


war episodes, and were of the most gorgeous character. 
They were arranged in, as it were, two stories o& 
shelves, each of which would accommodate two soldiers 
lying flat, on a soft springy leathern mattress. These 
shelves were arranged to let down at the side and make 
seats for those who were able to sit up. I was one of 
the latter. Eight men could ride on the seats. The 
ambulance was very springy and comfortable and the 
ride to the hospital was extremely pleasant. 

The hospital to which we were first taken was at 
Cherry Hill, a Philadelphia suburb, but I don't remem- 
ber much about that place, for we only remained there 
for a day or so, till we were removed to the central hos- 
pital at the corner of Broad and Cherry Streets. This 
had been a big market or railroad station, I've forgotten 
which, and had been transformed into a first-class hos- 
pital, with accommodations for several hundred patients. 

I was located on the third story, which perhaps con- 
tained a hundred wounded men. There was a great 
deal of red tape and form about this hospital, and the 
discipline was very strict. It was a good enough hos- 
pital, but at the same time it was a good deal like a 

Every morning at 10 o'clock the surgeon-in-chief 
would make his daily inspection. He was in full uni- 
form, as was the big staff of assistants that always ac- 
companied him. They marched through the different 
wards, past the cots, to inspect the wounded. We had 
to have the bandages removed from our wounds so that 
the} r could be seen as the doctors passed. 

To us who were only comparatively slightly wounded 
not much attention was paid. Sometimes the doctors 
would stop and handle the wound in a perfunctory and 
at times rough sort of a way, but that was all. But 
when they came to a particularly bad case they would 
stop and give the matter more attention. 

This was a sort of clinic. The head surgeon would 
examine the wound and perhaps do some probing, while 
the subordinates would stand around and watch the 
operation as the surgeon-in-chief would give a sort of a 
lecture on the character of the injury and its treatment. 
I will describe just one of these serious cases : 


It was the case or a poor wretch who had heen struck 
on the hip with a piece of shell. It had broken the hip 
bone into slivers, which of course made a running sore. 
Every morning the doctors would stop at this cot and 
after a great deal of probing, would remove one of the 
slivers of bone. For some reason they did not give the 
patient an anaesthetic, and from the way he yelled and 
howled it must have been excruciatingly painful. 

This was kept up for a week or ten days. Every time 
the doctors would stop at the side of the poor fellow 
they would gather around while one of the surgeons 
fished under the sore flesh for another sliver of bone, 
and never stopped till they removed it. I remember one 
morning the surgeon -in -chief, after hacking at the fel- 
low for some time and removing an infinitesimal ly 
small bit of bone, made the remark: "To-morrow we 
will perform the principal [operation and see if we can- 
not remove the large piece that we feel." The poor 
fellow gave a groan over the prospect that echoed 
through the ward. 

The next morning when the long string of doctors 
entered, and the patient referred to saw them coming, 
he gave vent to a series of shrieks and yells that made 
our hearts stand still. He was apprehending the opera- 
tion that the doctors had been talking about the day 

They did not give him ether, but began carving at 
him without much preliminary. I never heard a man 
cry and yell from pain as loudly as he did. It was ter- 
rible. We had to stuff our fingers in our ears so as to 
keep out the sound of his agonizing voice. He begged 
them to kill him outright and put him out of misery. 
Then he cursed them for a lot of devils and butchers. 
He prayed and cursed almost in the same voice, and so 
loud that it was simply a yell. 

The doctors finally got the bone out, and left the suf- 
fering wretch writhing in agony and alternately pray- 
ing and cursing. He kept this up for perhaps an hour 
and then suddenly all was ominously quiet. 

Directly I saw a crowd of attendants around the cot. 
There was a brief consultation. Then somebody brought 
a sheet and spread it over the man. Then two men 


brought in a stretcher, and lifting the body on it car- 
ried it out. He was dead. 

I must say that we all felt glad he was dead and out 
of his terrible suffering. 

This is only one case of many. I simply relate 
this as an example of some of the terrible heartrending 
scenes in the hospital that we were continually witness- 

After a week or so at the Broad and Cherry hospital 
I was removed to the one at the corner of Sixteenth and 
Filbert Streets. This was a large building, originally 
erected for manufacturing purposes. It was only one 
block from Market Street, on the corner of which stood 
a large market building. 

I remained at this hospital till I got well. When 
able to be about I was put on light duties, such as 
standing guard at the door. Then when I could use my 
hand somewhat I was appointed as a sort of an assistant 
to the surgeons when they were operating. In this 
manner I learned considerable about surgery, and more 
than once personally applied an anaesthetic and did a 
little in the line of sewing up simple wounds. Then 
they put me in the dispensary and under instructions I 
put up many prescriptions. The doctor in charge took 
a fancy to me, and spent considerable time in explaining 
the uses of the different drugs aDd the fundamental 
principles of surgery. 

All this, however, did not save me from a little duty 
in the line of standing guard. This duty was very 
light. I only had to stand on guard at the corner of 
Market and Filbert Streets from 9 to 11 o'clock every 
other night. "What particular use we were there for I 
never discovered. Our only instructions were to stop 
the soldiers coming through Filbert Street and make 
them show their passes. If they had no passes we 
were to get their names and report them. But nothing 
was ever done with those who had no passes, so that 
I never saw any use for the service. 

It should be explained that in Washington, Phila- 
delphia and other cities where hospitals were located, 
no one could leave the institution without a pass. It 
was easy enough to get these passes, and the soldiers 


were practically free, between certain hours, but if they 
did not have the passes they were liable to be taken in 
by the provost guards. 

There were many hospitals in Philadelphia in those 
days and the city was so filled with soldiers that it 
almost resembled a camp. There were as many soldiers 
as civilians, and perhaps more. 

It was while I was in Philadelphia that the news 
came of the battle of Gettysburg. There had been in- 
tense excitement in the city for several days, for the 
news had arrived that the rebels were marching north- 
ward and it would not be surprising if thej r got as far as 
Philadelphia. Consequently there was an incipient 
panic all through the city, and the public nerve was on 
a great strain. 

This was the state of affairs when the news came that 
General Meade had met and repulsed Lee at Gettysburg 
after a desperate three days' fight. Now it so happened 
that General Meade, who was in command of the Army 
of the Potomac at Gettysburg, was not only a Pennsyl- 
vanian, but a former resident of Philadelphia, and con- 
sequently there was a strong local pride in his conduct. 
When the news came that the army under General 
Meade had repulsed the Confederate army under Gen- 
eral Lee, the entire city went wild with enthusiasm. 

Flags were displayed everywhere, and one could not 
look a block through any street without seeing an ele- 
gant banner stretched across in honor of the occasion. 
The sale of soda water was superseded by the sale of 
"mead," a sort of root beer, which at once became the 
popular drink. 

In the West General Grant had just achieved one of 
the remarkable victories that brought him into promi- 
nence, and this, coupled with General Meade's victory 
in Pennsylvania, filled the nation from one end to the 
other with enthusiasm; but nowhere was it more 
marked than in the city of Philadelphia. I remember 
one particular banner which happily referred to both 
the successful generals, and which read as follows : 

"To our victorious commanders, we Grant the Meade 
of praise." 

The author of that happy and appropriate expression 


made the hit of his life, for it became a regular catch 
word, and was kept standing at the head of the editorial 
columns of the papers. 

And, by the way, the principal paper read in Phila- 
delphia in those exciting days was the Jnguirer, The 
Philadelphia Inquirer and the Baltimore American 
were about the only newspapers that anybody in Phila- 
delphia read then. We seldom or never saw a New 
York paper, although occasionally I came across a copy 
of the Herald. 

Through these papers I read of the gallant part taken 
by the Thirteenth Regiment in the battle of Gettysburg. 
I rather kind of wished I was with them to share the 
glory, but on the other hand I rather think that I felt 
perfectly satisfied to be where I was. 

It wasn't long before some of the wounded men of 
the Thirteenth Regiment turned up in the Philadelphia 
hospitals, and from them I got a full account of the part 
they took in the battle. When I heard this I was more 
than ever glad that I was not present on that occasion. 
And a year or so ago, when I went over the battle 
grounds and visited every one of the three hundred and 
sixty-six handsome monuments there, I was more than 
ever convinced that I was sensible in getting com- 
paratively slightly wounded at Chancellorsville. 

It was also while I was in Philadelphia that the great 
riot occurred in New York, when the Tribune building 
was partially wrecked, and when so many people were 
killed. That was the time when every negro who came 
in sight v/as hung to the nearest lamp post. Several 
regiments from the front had to be brought North from 
fighting the common enemy to suppress another rebel- 
lion that had started right in the principal city of the 

The anti-war feeling that was the principal incentive 
to that riot in New York had spread to a greater or less 
extent all over the country, and there were signs of its 
spreading. It might have become national, in fact, but 
for the prompt measures that were taken to suppress it 
in its incipiency. 

This riotous sentiment spread even to Philadelphia, 
but the measures taken there were prompt and decisive. 


Large bodies of armed men were stationed all over, in 
the market houses and other piaces and drilled in the 
riot tactics. Their guns were loaded with bullets and 
had the riot started there would have been some bloody 

Philadelphia is a city grid ironed with street railroads. 
It was even so in those days. Hastily the tops were 
torn off many passenger cars, and they were made into 
platform cars. On the platforms of these cars were 
placed howitzers, loaded with grape and canister. 
The cars, fully manned, were run into the depots of the 
street railroads, and remained there ready for instant 
emergency. There were not enough artillerymen in 
the city to man all these portable batteries, and infan- 
trymen were pressed into the service. 

To this duty I was assigned, greatly to my terror. I 
didn't want to be killed in a riot, after having passed 
through several battles in the front ! But there I was. 
I was given a big wooden ramrod, with a brush ar- 
rangement on the end, and they told me it was a 
"swab." I was shown how to use it. Immediately 
after the cannon had been fired I was to clean out the 
barrel with the swab, and then step to one side for the 
next man to push in another cartridge — an arrange- 
ment that looked like a bag of salt. 

But fortunately for the unruly element of Philadel- 
phia, they did not break out into a riot and my services 
as chief swabber were not required. The chances are 
that I would have been so excited that I would have 
forgotten to pull out the wooden ramrod arrangement 
and some citizen of Philadelphia might have been hunt- 
ing for a doctor with a thick wooden bar sticking 
through his stomach ! 

We had lots of good times in Philadelphia. The 
Chestnut Street and Walnut Street theaters were run- 
ning and I visited them several times a week. I re- 
member the spectacular play of "Joseph and his Breth- 
ren" in Walnut Street, and in the Chestnut Street 
theater I saw "The Duke's Motto" and Edwin Booth 
in "Hamlet," while in the Arch Street theater I saw 
the debut of Caroline Richings in opera, under the man- 
agement of the late Edmon S. Conner. 


Taken altogether, therefore, our soldier life in Phila- 
delphia was not unpleasant, and the several months we 
spent there were enjoyable. 

Some time in the fall an officer came around to 
examine us to see if we were sufficiently recovered to be 
returned to our regiments. A good many were pro- 
nounced able to go back to the field. I can't say that I 
felt happy at this prospect, but I could only obey if so 

But after my examination, I was informed that I was 
not to go back. I was to be transferred to the Invalid 

And here is to be introduced another branch of army 
life, about which not much has been written. And it 
leads into a very interesting branch of the writer's mili- 
tary experience. But of that I will wait for another 




About the time the war was about half through, say 
the latter part of 1863, the government began to be con- 
fronted by an unprecedented condition of affairs. In 
the North the supply of volunteers was becoming too 
small to meet the calls for troops, and drafting was 
about to be resorted to. In the army large numbers of 
men were being disabled by wounds and from the sick- 
ness caused by exposure from service in the field. 

Necessarily, many able-bodied men, who were capable 
of performing duty at the front, were being kept in the 
rear for duty as guardsmen, orderlies, clerks, etc., at 
the headquarters, around the provost guard posts, and 
other places, where the service required was indispen- 
sable yet not physically arduous. 

It struck some one to use the wounded men for this 
reserve service, and after a good many different sugges- 
tions had been made and rejected, a branch of the army, 
called the "Invalid Corps," was organized. 

The Invalid Corps, at first, was composed o f two 
battalions, the first and the second. The Second Bat- 
talion was composed of men who had lost a leg or arm. 
They could elect whether to be discharged or remain in 
the service in the Second Battalion, and the most of them 
selected the service, for they began to appreciate the 
fact that a man minus one of the more important mem- 
bers of his body was lucky if he could get anything to 
do to earn a living. These men, however, could run 
errands, stand guard at gates and doorways, and do a 
thousand and one little things as well as a strong, able- 
bodied man, who might better be utilized at the front. 

The First Battalion was composed of men less seri- 
ously injured, such as those with the loss of a part of a 


hand or foot, or who limped or suffered in some other 
way to such an extent that they were not able to do 
active duty at the front in the field. The latter had no 
class choice. They were put in the Invalid Corps 
whether they liked it or not, and could not elect to be 
discharged like those who went into the other battalion. 

It was into this branch that I was drafted. I not 
only missed the part of my hand, but the wounds in 
my hip and foot made me limp considerably, and it was 
impossible for me to walk any great distance. At the 
same time I was able to do pretty good service in every- 
thing that did not involve marching or remaining out 
in the hot sun, for the effects of the serious sunstroke I 
had received at Rockville had begun to trouble me con- 
siderably more than they did at first. 

And thus it was that I was transferred into the In- 
valid Corps during the latter part of the year 1863. 
This meant that I should serve my time out in this 
branch of the service, and never rejoin the regiment 
again. But my heart was with them and I closely fol- 
lowed the movements of my old companions wherever 
they went. 

I should say right here that the name Invalid Corps 
did not stick to the organization very long. There was 
something about the name that was for some reason 
considered opprobrious, and ridicule was thrown on 
that branch of the service for no other reason than the 
title. So, at the suggestion of some of the leading 
officers of the organization, the name was charged to 
"Veteran Reserve Corps," and so it continued to the 
end of the war, and it became a very useful branch of 
the service. 

The officers of the Veteran Reserve Corps were com- 
missioned by the President of the United States instead 
of by the governors of the different States, as were the 
ordinary volunteers. In fact the commission of an 
officer in the Veteran Reserve Corps was the same as 
one of the regular army, and the rank was the same — 
that is, about one grade higher, rank for rank, than the 
officers of the volunteer service. 

After the usual formalities of my transfer from the 
Thirteenth New Jersey to the Veteran Reserve Corps, I 


was assigned to Company D, Sixteenth Regiment, 
which was formed at Philadelphia, but immediately 
transferred to Elmira, New York. 

At the latter place were located large military prisons 
for the confinement of rebel captives. The prisons, as 
well as the quarters for the men, were nothing more 
than rough barracks. The prisoners might have broken 
out at any time almost, but the security depended upon 
for their safety consisted in the cordon of guards sta- 
tioned about the buildings, and the large reserve guard 
which was always kept on duty at the guardhouse to 
be called upon at any moment. 

The rebel prisoners were a dirty, untidy, forlorn- 
looking lot of men, but as a whole tolerably good- 
natured and affording not the slightest trouble to keep 
under control. They were comfortably housed, not- 
withstanding the fact that the weather was cold (and 
there was snow on the ground all the time I was at 
Elmira), and they were better fed than they had been at 
any time during their service in the Confederate army. 
In fact there is reason to believe that some of them were 
better fed than they ever were at their homes in the 
South, for the class of men we had in our charge was not 
representative of the so-called aristocratic chivalry of 
the sunny South. 

The rebels in our charge were prisoners in name and 
in fact, but they were a happy-go-lucky lot, and didn't 
seem to care for anything except to eat. In marked 
contrast with their condition was the horrible treatment 
received by the starved and illy treated Northern sol- 
diers who were so unfortunate as to be confined in those 
death-holes, Libby and Andersonville. 

Our life at Elmira during the late fall and early win- 
ter of 1863 was monotonous in the extreme. There 
wasn't much to be seen in Elmira in those days, for it 
was a comparatively small place. About the only 
place of amusement in the town was a little one-horse 
sort of music hall, where we occasionally went in the 
evening, and my recollection of the place altogether is 
that of its being intolerably stupid and uninteresting. 

For some reason, perhaps from inspiration, but more 
likely because I had nothing better to do, I spent many 


of the long evenings in studying the revised army regu- 
lations, articles of war and tactics. Theoretically I Lad 
all these things at my fingers' ends. I don't know 
what ever took me to studying them, but as it turned 
out shortly it was a happy thing for me that I did so. 

One evening while in the captain's office helping him 
make out some reports, I happened to pick up a circular 
issued from the office of Provost Marshal General James 
B. Fry, who at that time seemed to he at the head of 
the Veteran Corps. H9 was a sort of secretary of war 
for that branch of the service, as it were. 

This circular was to the effect that examinations 
would be held in the city of Washington on January 
27, 1864, for the appointment of sixteen lieutenants of 
the Veteran Reserve Corps, and it was desired that this 
examination be confined to members of the corps. The 
circular gave full instructions how to proceed. 

My heart jumped into my throat at the sight of this. 
It seemed to be so presumptuous that I hardly had the 
nerve to mention it to anybody. But the more I 
thought of it the stronger did the feeling become, till at 
last, on the following morning, I went to the captain's 
office and informed him that I desired to make an appli- 
cation for examination for a commissioned officer. 

The captain looked at me with a smile. He saw be- 
fore him a boy not yet twenty years old, not at all im- 
posing in appearance, in fact very youthful-looking, 
and anything in the world seemed more appropriate 
than to imagine him in the uniform of a commissioned 
officer. No wonder the captain laughed. 

But I meant it, and soon impressed the captain with 
my earnestness. He at once took some interest in my 
case, and assisted me in writing my application. The 
circular, however, said that the application must be 
accompanied by a recommendation from my former com- 
pany officers. 

Then I remembered the conversation I once had with 
Captain Hopkins, of Company K. He had promised 
that if ever I wanted him to do anything for me he 
would do it, and it will perhaps be remembered at 
the time I told him I would remember the promise 
and, call upon him to keep it. So I wrote to Captain 


Hopkins and asked him to get the approval of my old 
officers, not only from Company K, but if possible 
from Colonel Carman as well. 

I felt a little doubtful about the latter. The last time 
I had spoken to Colonel Carman was down near Wolf 
Run Shoals. The supply of provisions had run short 
and we were for two or three days in danger of being 
starved to death. It was all the result of blundering on 
the part of the officers. Being possessed of the penchant 
for newspaper correspondence, and having had two or 
three letters already published in the New York Herald, 
I sent that paper a very interesting account of our half- 
starved condition, which was published. In that letter 
I gave the officers the dickens, and pitched into Colonel 
Carman especially. 

By some bad luck a copy of the Herald containing 
the letter fell into the hands of the colonel. He showed 
it to General Euger, and the result of it was that I 
was clapped into the guardhouse. After being there 
several hours the colonel came to visit me. He gave 
me a scolding. There was no law that prevented a 
private from sending a letter to a newspaper, and 
that was the only punishment he could give me. But 
he exacted a promise from me that I would not write 
any more letters to newspapers, and not knowing any 
better at the time, I complied and stopped my corre- 

That was the last conversation I had had personally 
with the colonel before I left the regiment a wounded 
soldier at the battle of Chancellorsville. I therefore 
had very little hopes of receiving the recommendation 
of Colonel Carman. 

But nevertheless I did. In the course of a couple of 
weeks or so the answer to my letter to Captain Hopkins 
was received. The kind captain had more than kept 
his promise to me. The recommendation he sent was of 
the strongest possible character. It commended me for 
ray intelligence, faithfulness to duty, and of all things 
in the world, for my bravery and courage in the field of 
battle in the face of the enemy. In fact the document 
was so extremely complimentary, that to use a modern 
expression I was "quite stuck on myself." 


But, what was my surprise, on turning the recom- 
mendation over to find that it was signed by every 
officer of the Thirteenth Regiment. The document bore 
the signatures of some officers that I had never spoken 
to in my life, and who did not know the difference be- 
tween me and a side of sole leather. But I could see 
through it all. They had all done this at the request 
of Captain Hopkins. Kind captain ! How grateful I 
felt to him for this. I immediately sat down and wrote 
him my thanks, and as they were expressive of my feel- 
ing just at that particular moment they must have been 
very warm. 

The next thing was to get a furlough for ten days to 
go to Washington to pass the examination. This was 
easily secured, under the circumstances. Not only does 
a commmissioned officer stand higher socially and other - 
v/ise than a private, but the very fact that a private 
stands a slight chance of being a commissioned officer 
puts him in a position to taste for the first time the 
privileges of a commission. Colonel Stephen A. Moore, 
the commander of the Sixteenth Regiment, V. R. C. , at 
once granted me the desired furlough and kindly wished 
me every good luck on my journey. 

"If you don't return wearing a pair of shoulder 
straps," said he good-naturedly, "I'll put you in the 

Now that it began to look so much like business I 
began to be frightened. I almost felt like backing out. 
The idea of my going to Washington and undertaking 
to pass an examination to prove that I was able and 
qualified to hold a commission in a branch of the regu- 
lar army was overwhelming. It seemed such a piece 
of cheek that I half -felt a mind to tear up the furlough 
and give the whole thing up. 

But on the other hand I considered what a glorious 
thing it would be to be a commissioned officer, to wear 
shoulder straps, and to step into the other estate so high 
above that of the enlisted soldier. I concluded to go 
on, and face it through, whatever the result. And on 
the evening of January 26th, the day before that set for 
the commencement of the examination, I found myself 
in Washington again. 


I put up at the old National Hotel. As I looked into 
the glass that night I was struck at my extremely 
youthful appearance, and more than ever was overcome 
with the cheek I had in thinking of being a commis- 
sioned officer. My mustache had just begun to show 
itself. It was a mere downy mass on my upper lip, 
hardly distinguishable to the naked eye ! My hair was 
long, uncouth and scraggly. If I remember rightly the 
last time it was cut it was by one of my comrades in the 
barracks, and it looked as if it had been hacked off with 
a carving knife. 

A happy thought struck me. I must do something 
with that mustache. Every officer wore a mustache, 
that is, every officer in Washington. The larger the 
mustache the more dignified and ferocious an officer 
looked. In fact to a certain extent the importance of a 
commissioned officer in those days was based on the size 
and impressiveness of his mustache. 

I must do something to make my mustache show 
more plainly. At first I thought I would get a false 
one, such as they wear at masquerades, and paste it on 
my upper lip. But I discarded that idea as being too 
dangerous. Suppose the thing should drop off while I 
was undergoing the examination ! That would ruin my 
chances at once. I would be iguominiously relegated to 
my regiment as a private for trying to get a commis- 
sion under false pretenses. 

But at last I solved the problem. I would go to the 
barber's and have that mustache dyed black. Then it 
would show more plainly. Further, I would get my 
hair cut to a crop, and the comparison would make the 
mustache still more prominent. I had solved the diffi- 
culty at once, and immediately proceeded to put it into 

I found a barber's shop on the first floor of the hotel, 
stretched myself back into che chair and gave the Older. 
The barbers were all colored men in Washington in 
those days, and I remembered the smiling look my man 
gave his next companion as I gave the order to have 
my mustache dyed. 

But it was accomplished at last. It cost me eighty 
cents for the job, but I never invested eighty cents that 


gave me greater satisfaction. WhenI surveyed myself 
in the glass, I straightened myself out with ineffable 
pride — for my mustache could be seen clear across the 
room. I squinted my eyes downward and could even 
get a glance of it below my nose. It was the first time 
in my life that I had been able to see my own mustache ! 

I took a short walk through Pennsylvania Avenue, 
clean gone on myself. I wondered if everybody did not 
notice that I was some distinguished personage, with 
such a big mustache ! I felt at least a foot taller than 
I did before. With an air of importance I stalked into 
a saloon and asked for a cocktail ! 

"Can't sell liquor to enlisted men," said the bar- 

I had forgotten. I was only a private yet. I had 
forgotten that I still wore my dingy blue suit of a pri- 
vate in the "Veteran Reserve Corps. If I had the shoul- 
der straps I might have filled myself up with liquor till 
I could not stand. But none was sold to a private. 

There was a feeling of humiliation about this. The 
idea that a man cannot buy what he wants when he has 
money in his pocket, simply because of his rank, is very 
galling to a native-born American. But such was the 
rule. Washington was under martial law, so far as the 
soldiers were concerned, and any saloon keeper who 
sold liquor to an enlisted man in uniform was liable to 
have his license revoked. Had I put on a citizen's 
suit I might have got all the liquor I wanted. But 
then, strange as it may appear now, it was against the 
law for an enlisted soldier to wear a civilian suit of 
clothes. It was regarded as a prima facie evidence that 
the man was disguising himself for the purpose of de- 
serting. Another evidence of the degradation of low 
rank ! 

I really didn't want the drink. I had merely gone 
in because I just then felt my importance, and because 
it was a proper sign of importance for a man in my po- 
sition to go into a saloon and order a drink. But I had 
come down like the stick of a used-up sky rocket. I 
had a mustache that could be seen, it is true, but the 
other necessity, the shoulder straps, were not yet visible. 
I had to go through something worse than a barber's 
shop before I got that insignia of rank. 


The examination was to begin the next morning at 10 
o'clock, and I was on hand bright and early. No sooner 
had I arrived, however, than I was almost paralyzed 
with the prospect. 

As I said before, the circular of instructions said that 
there were sixteen appointments to be made. What 
was my horror to find that there were at least one hun- 
dred and fifty men there to be examined. 

And some of them were very important-looking. 
Some looked as if they had already held commissioned 
offices. Many of them looked wise and important. 
Nearly every one was older than I. In fact I think 
that I was the youngest man there, and I imagined that 
some of the others looked at me with a disdainful air. 
Worst of all, most of the other candidates had mus- 
taches ten times as -formidable-looking as the miserable 
little black dyed outline of hair on my upper lip ! What 
chances had I alongside such an array of formidable 
hirsute adornment ! 

An airish and important-looking officer came from 
another apartment into the room where we were hud- 
dled and read off the list of applicants, like a roll call. 
The list was made out in the order the applications had 
been received. Mine was nearly to the bottom. Another 
discouraging thing, I thought. The appointments 
would all be filled before my name was reached. 

I took a note of the time it would take before my turn 
came, and from the time it took for the first ones to be 
examined, calculated that it would be quite late in the 
afternoon before my turn was reached. As I sat there 
looking over the circular of instructions again, I sud- 
denlv jumped at the sight of a name I had not noticed 
before. It was that of "Colonel M. N. Wisewell," an 
officer who held an important position in the office of 
the provost marshal general, and whose name was 
signed to the circular. 

How well I recognized the familiar signature. Of 
all the men in the world, I could have wished for none 
more just then than Colonel Wisewell. Let me explain. 

When I lived in Yonkers, New York, a boy, I went for 
a while to M. N. Wise well's military academy. It was 
there that I received my first instruction. My father 


had only sent me there for the discipline, as he said, 
never imagining that it would be any particular benefit 
to me. But it was very fortunate for me just then. 
Colonel Wisewell, by the way, after the war, was the 
principal of the military academy at Eaglewood, near 
Peith Am boy, New Jersey. 

I thought that I would at once try to see Colonel 
"Wisewell at his office, and proceeded to the war depart- 

Now it was a hard thing in those days for a private 
soldier to get into the war department without a pass or 
order or some sort of an introduction. I was stopped 
at almost every turn of the hallwaj'S by a soldier on 
guard, but as I had had some newspaper experience in 
getting into places, I finally succeeded in reaching the 
office of the provost marshal general. Eight at the 
entrance whom should I run right into but Colonel 
Wisewell himself! 

The colonel was a remarkable-looking man. He was 
considerably over six feet high and had an eagle nose of 
the hookiest shape imaginable. He also had an eagle 
eye, that seemed to look straight through you. He was 
altogether a man of extraordinary, commanding ap- 
pearance, and in his uniform he looked more command- 
ing than ever. I remember being struck just then with 
the impression of how appropriate it was that a man 
with an eagle eye and an eagle nose, should wear eagles 
on his shoulder straps — a silver spread eagle being the 
insignia of a colonel. 

"Colonel Wisewell?" I said quite bravely. 

"Well, sir, what do you want?" he asked, very 
brusquely, not to say harshly. 

"Do you remember me, colonel?" I asked, some- 
what timorously, for his brusque manner had rather 
disconcerted me. 

He turned his eagle eye at me, and his glance seemed 
to penetrate my innermost soul. I was terrified lest he 
should have forgotten his former humble pupil at Yon- 
kers academy. For a moment he hesitated, and then 
said : 

"Your face is familiar, but I can't place you. What 
is your name?" 


My heart rather went clown. But if I had stopped to 
think a moment I might have considered that it was 
quite improbable that he should have recognized me on 
the start. 

I was. a mere boy when I attended his school and it 
was several years previous. Furthermore how was it 
likely that he should have recognized me there, in that 
place and in that uniform? But I was a little shaky 
when I answered : 

"My name is Crowell. I used to attend your academy 
at " 

"Oh, yes," he interrupted, "I recognize you now. 
You are Joe Crowell. But what are you doing here? 
I had no idea you were in the army. " 

Then I related to him the circumstances, and briefly 
went over my service in the Thirteenth, and explained 
how I had come on to be examined for a commission, 
but was afraid that with so many applicants there was 
little chance for me unless I had some influence. I 
frankly acknowledged that I had come to him to ask 
for his influence to help me through. 

His answer was more than I could have expected. He 
gave me to understand then and there that if I could 
pass at least a creditable examination he would be able 
to help me through. And he very complimentary re- 
marked that any one who had been a pupil at his school 
in Yonkers ought to know enough to answer the ques- 
tions that would be propounded. 

"When do you expect to be called before the examin- 
ing board?" he finally asked. 

"Some time this afternoon," I replied. "Judging 
from the way they are going I should think that I 
would be called about 3 o'clock this afternoon." 

"All right," said he, "I will attend to the matter at 
once. You go and take your seat as you were and wait 
till you are called, and say nothing to any one about 
having seen me, for if it is heard that there can be any 
help, there will be no end to the applicants for assist- 

I went back to the rooms of the examining board with 
a much lighter heart. In a few minutes I noticed Colo- 
nel Wisewell enter the examination room, and directly 


he came out again. He gave me a significant nod of 
recognition as he passed me, but I had the sense not to 
stop him to ask any questions. I knew, however, from 
his glance that he had done everything he could do. 

According to my calculations and judging from the 
number of candidates still ahead of me on the list, I 
thought that it would be at least two hours before my 
name was reached. But what was my surprise a few 
moments later to see one of the officers stick his head 
out of the mysterious apartment of torture, and looking 
around, ask: 

"Is Private Crov/ell here?" 

I arose and answered in the affirmative. 

"All right," said the officer. "Come right in now." 

I was so nearly paralyzed with astonishment and 
fright that I staggered like a drunken man. My shak- 
ing knees would hardly bear the weight of my body as 
I made my way into the mysterious chamber. 

My self-possession was not in the least restored when 
I glanced around and saw the array of generals and 
colonels and majors gathered around the long table at 
the end of the room. 

Then began the inquisition. I had come to the gulf 
that separates the privates from the commissioned 




None except those who have served in the army can 
fully appreciate the vast gulf that exists between the 
"enlisted man" and the "commissioned officer." 

The former is the plebeian, the serf of the army, the 
latter the aristocrat, the autocrat of the service. 

The difference between the master and a slave in the 
old times was hardly greater than that between the en- 
listed soldier and the commissioned officer. The former 
was compelled to do whatever the latter commanded, 
no matter what it might be. If an officer commanded 
a soldier to blacken his boots, brush his clothes, cook 
his breakfast, or even wash his shirt, to refuse or dis- 
obey would be regarded as mutiny. The soldier might 
subsequently make a protest, and perhaps — I say per- 
haps — it might be righted by instructions being given 
to the officer not to again put the soldier on such menial 

But for the time being it was the soldier's duty to obey. 
In fact, the first thing a soldier is taught is to obey 
orders, no matter what they may be. And it were bet- 
ter for him to do so, for if there was a protest against 
some mean service, the officer could, by a system of 
petty tyranny, make that soldier's life forever after a 
hell on earth. 

The best advice I can give to a soldier is to obey 
orders, no matter what they may be ; and as far as pos- 
sible keep on the right side of the officers. 

This vast gulf I was about to cross, or to try to cross. 
It was therefore not an ordinary examination. The 
result was momentous. It was perhaps one of the most 
important steps I had ever taken. I was impressd with 
its importance, and naturally felt very nervous over the 


result. I bad not the slightest idea of the nature of the 
questions to be asked, and so had not had the chance to 
make any preparation. I bad more than a fair knowl- 
edge of the tactics and articles of war and military 
matters generally, but I had been given to understand 
that the examination would go a good deal further than 
that, although in what direction I was profoundly igno- 

Seated around the table in the middle of the examina- 
tion room were a lot of gold-laced, shoulder-strapped 
officers, whom I did not know at the time, but whom I 
subsequently learned were as follows : 

There were Colonel Richard H. Eush, Colonel G. N. 
Morgan, Colonel F. D. Sewall, Colonel B. J. Sweet, 
Lieiitenant-Colonel Dewitt C. Poole and Captain James 
R. O'Beirne. The latter is a prominent New Yorker 
at the present time. He is the same Colonel 0'Beiri:e 
who was commissioner of immigration, who refused to 
vamoose the ranch when another man was placed in 
his position, on the ground that he was a veteran and 
that under the civil services rules he could not be 
removed except for cause. 

The above-named officers were the official members 
of the examination board. I noticed a number of others 
sitting around, but they were there simply as spectators. 
They appeared to enjoy the torture of the innocents the 
same as the kings and emperors of old enjoyed the tor- 
ture of the prisoners brought before them. 

Well, the examination began promptly on time. Colo- 
nel Rush, the president of the board, sent the ball roll- 
ing in a kindly meant way by advising me not to be 
nervous and to keep cool, as the examination would not 
be a hard one. This was all right, but the idea that he 
should have considered it necessary to give me any such 
advice at all struck me as a preparation for something 
terrible, and, if anything, it made me all the more 

The first question was of course my name and resi- 
dence, occupation before enlisting, and all such things. 
Then came the time I had been in the army, the battles 
I had been in, and the nature of my wounds. When 
this part of the examination had been reached I had to 


Undress and be examined by two surgeons who were 
present. I did not like the idea of stripping before so 
many big officers, but then I had come prepared to go 
through anything that might come along, the same as a 
fellow does when he offers himself as a candidate for 
initiation in a Masonic lodge. 

This through, after being examined like a horse for 
all my "points," I resumed my clothing, and the ques- 
tions were fired at me with lightning rapidity. 

As I said before, I had posted myself on the regula- 
tions, articles of war, tactics, and such things, and 
could even draw from memory many of the blanks used 
in the service, thanks to my experience as company 
clerk. Then they commenced asking me questions 
touching my general intelligence. 

Mathematics was my weak point always, and I felt 
sure that I would stumble on these things, but fortu- 
nately they did not go further than the computation of 
interest and the multiplication of plain fractions. If 
they had gone into the mixed and vulgar fractions I 
would have fallen by the wayside. They skipped over 
algebra, to my great satisfaction, for on that subject I 
never got further than to know that "x equalled the 
unknown quantity," and the rest has been an "unknown 
quantity" all my life. They asked me one question in 
geometry, and it happened to be about the only oue I 
could have answered. It was the first problem in Book 
I of Davies' "Legendre," and I guess that must have 
been as far as any of my examiners had ever got them- 

What under the sun all these things had to do with 
holding the commission of a lieutenant, perhaps the 
reader would like to know. So would I. I never did 

Then they tackled me with geography, and here I 
made a pretty mess of it. "How long is the Mississippi 
River?" I was asked. How did I know? How many 
of my readers can tell, off-handed? ' ' How many square 
miles are there in Lake Superior?" was fired at me. I 
began to get desperate. 

"Gentlemen," said I, reaching for my hat, "I am a 
candidate for a position in the army, not in the navy." 


I thought it was all up with me then. But instead 
of getting mad about it, my sally provoked a laugh, and 
they dropped the question of the areage of the great 

Then they tackled me on grammar and spelling and 
literature, in which I did fairly well, I imagine, for 
there were approving nods passed round the board. 
And when I was asked to take a seat at the table and 
write an imaginary report of a street riot, I was right 
in my element, for I simply wrote it out as I would 
have done for a newspaper. 

But I will not weary the reader by any further details 
of the examination. It lasted apparently a long while, 
but it was not so long after all, for when I was dis- 
missed and got out into the other room I had not been 
before the board much more than half an hour. 

Of course I did not know whether I had passed or 
not. I was told that I would receive word of the result 
in due time. From that moment I was on pins and 
needles. Now the prize seemed to be so near my grasp, 
I was more than ever anxious to secure it. I went to 
the hotel that afternoon in a very disconcerted state of 
mind over the feeling of uncertainty. 

In the evening I met Colonel Wisewell at Willard's 
Hotel, where I had wandered somewhat aimlessly. The 
colonel was quite friendly. 

"I have a room here," said he. "Come up." 

And I went upstairs with the colonel. He rang a 
bell and the boy brought us some whisky. I felt that 
I needed something just then. Then I touched the bell. 
I had a little money and we had a good time ! 

During the evening two of the officers of the examin- 
ing board dropped in. I was considerably surprised at 
their appearance. 

"I was just treating my old friend and schoolmaster, 
Colonel Wisewell," I said. "If I were a commissioned 
officer I would ask you to join. I believe that it is con- 
trary to the ethics of the service for a commissioned 
officer to drink with a private soldier." 

"Oh, you needn't worry about that little thing, lieu- 
tenant," said Colonel (I won't mention his name). 

" Lieutenant?" said I wonderingly. 


"Yes, Lieutenant Crowell, permit me to congratulate 

"You don't mean to say that I passed all right?" 
asked I, with ill-suppressed delight. 

"That's just what I mean. You will receive formal 
notice in the morning. You are practically a second 
lieutenant now at this moment, for your commission 
dates from to day." 

For a moment I was speechless. I could hardly 
realize it. 

I rang the bell. There were no electric buttons in 
those days — only a sort of little brass crank fastened 
into the wall, which sounded a bell in the office. 
"Boy," said I, with all the air of a major-general, 
when the waiter stuck his woolly head into the door, 
"boy, bring up half a dozen bottles of wine." 

Champagne was then five dollars a bottle, and small 
bottles at that. But what did I care for expense just 
at that moment? Thirty dollars in a momentary swoop, 
to be sure. One-third of the capital I had brought to 
Washington gone in a minute ! But I never thought of 
the expense just then. I was getting one hundred and 
twenty-five dollars a month then, instead of the measly 
thirteen dollars that I had been receiving as a private. 

We drank the wine, and one of the officers ordered 
some more. Then another officer ordered some more, 
and so on ! 

All the same I got back to my hotel about midnight 
without assistance ! 

I passed through the office of the "National" that 
night in the plain garb of a private soldier. "Only an 
enlisted man," is what any one would have said to see 
me. But I held a blessed secret in my heart that made 
me greatly enjoy the incognito. 

There was little sleep for me that night. A commis- 
sioned officer ! The dreams of every soldier are to be a 
commissioned officer. I had been accorded the distinc- 
tion. I could hardly realize it. It seemed all so sud- 
den that as I lay there on my bed that night I had to 
go over and over the facts to make myself believe that 
I had really been so fortunate. 

I felt a little rocky in the morning and thought that a 


cocktail would rouse me up. I forgot my uniform and 
ordered it with all the gusto of a general. 

"Can't sell liquor to enlisted men," said the bar- 

I had forgotten. But then I wasn't an enlisted man. 
Would I tell the barkeeper? No, I guess not. He 
wouldn't believe me anyhow. And I rather enjoyed 
the disguise, as I had begun to regard my private's uni- 
form. So I took a plain lemonade. I have an idea now 
that it did me a good deal more benefit than the cock- 
tail would have done. 

The next morning I received an official document set- 
ting all doubts at rest. Here is a copy of the original I 
have now before me : 

Office of the Board of Examination of Officers 
of the Invalid Corps, 
Washington, D. C, January 27, 1864. 
Report of the examination of Private Joseph E. Cro- 
well, Co. D, 16th Regt. In v. Corps, by the Board of 
Examination convened by Special Orders No. 9 (Ex. 
26), War Dept., 1864. 

Having carefully examined Private Joseph E. Cro- 
well, Co. D, 16th Regt. I. C. upon Tactics, Regula- 
tions, Articles of War, Field Service, Discipline, Dis- 
ability, General Education, and capacity for holding a 
commission, upon mature deliberation decide to recom- 
mend Private Joseph E. Crowell, Co. D, 16th Regt. I. 
C, for the appointment of Second Lieutenant in the 
Invalid Corps and to do duty in the First Battalion. 

Rich'd H. Rush, Col. 1st Regt. I. C, Pres't 

of Board. 
G. N. Morgan, Col. 2d Regt. I. C, member. 
F. D. Sewall, Col. 3d, 4th Regt. In. Corps. 
R. J. Sweet, Col. 8th Regt. I. C, member. 
Dewitt C. Poole, Lieut. -Col. I. C. 
A true copy, 

James R. O'Beirne, Capt. I. C, on duty. 

As before explained, the name of the organization at 
that time was the "Invalid Corps." It was subse- 
quently changed to "Veteran Reserve Corps." The 


change was made between the time of my examination 
and the receipt of my commission from the president, so 
that the commission bore the new name, and I have 
been informed that mine was the first commission issued 
under the name of the "Veteran Reserve Corps." 

I went up to the provost marshal general's office the 
same day and asked Colonel Wise well what to do next. 

He told me that there were certain formalities to be 
observed before I got my commission. I had to return 
to Elmira, where I would receive a formal announce- 
ment and the colonel of my regiment would also be 
similarly notified. And on the strength of that notice 
he would grant me a discharge as private. 

So I returned to Elmira. I called on Colonel Moore 
and informed him of my success, and he congratulated 
me heartily. 

"It's a good thing that you got through all right," 
said he good-naturedly, "for you will remember what 
I told you — that if you failed I would put you in the 

I laughingly remembered. 

For several days I waited for the official announce- 
ment of my appointment. As the days rolled by I 
began to get discouraged. What if after all there 
should be some mistake about it? The disappointment 
would have been terrible, after my ideas had been raised 
so high. 

It was not till the 8th of February that I received the 
expected notification. It was dated February 2d, but 
there was so much red tape to go through in those days 
that there always was a delay in official documents. 
But the thing came at last, and I have it before me. It 
reads as follows : 

"War Department, 
"Provost Marshal General's Office, 
"Washington, D. C, February 2, 1894. 
"Second Lieutenant Joseph E. Crowell, 

Invalid Corps, 

Elmira, N, Y. 
"Sir: Inclosed you will receive your appointment in 
the Invalid Corps. You will put yourself in uniform, 


according to the instructions contained in the inclosed 
circular, and report, in person, to the Provost Marshal 
General, Washington, D. C, with as little delay as pos- 
sible. I am, very respectfully, 

"Your obedient servant, 


"Colonel and Assistant to Provost Marshal General." 

There was a little note attached to the effect that if I 
did not report in seven days it would be construed as 
a non-acceptance of the appointment. No danger of 
that ! I would be there on time all right, you bet ! 

Colonel Moore, of the regiment to which I had been 
attached, received notice of my appointment at the same 
time, and he at once made out my discharge. I left 
Elmira the same day with the congratulations of my 
former companions and the envy of the men with whom 
I had been intimately associated in the menial duties of 
a private soldier. 

The next thing was the uniform. I concluded to 
patronize home industry and made a bee-line for Pater- 
son, and gave the order to a tailor of that city. The 
uniform was an expensive and elaborate affair. The 
overcoat alone cost $95. The sword and sash, which I 
have yet, cost $30. Altogether the outfit cost in the 
neighborhood of $250, and I had to borrow some money 
to make it up. But a jump from $13 to $125 a month 
and expenses paid was such an advance that the ques- 
tion of expense never entered my mind. 

If ever I had a good time I had it on that occasion. I 
visited all my old friends and enjoyed myself im- 
mensely. I was regarded as a sort of hero, too, and I 
didn't lot on to a single soul that I was anything else ! 

But I was surprised at the absence of so many of my 
old associates. I would ask for this one and that one, 
only to be told that he had enlisted in this or that regi- 
ment. It really seemed as if all my old friends had 
gone to the front. Paterson looked deserted. And my 
best girl had been married. If she had seen me in my 
uniform she never would have done it. 

But there were still some people in town that I re- 
membered well enough, including some of those whose 


speeches had instigated me and so many others to enlist. 
They never went themselves. Their course was like 
that of the dominie who said : " I want you to do as I 
say, not as I do." They fought the war with a chin — ■ 
as did Samson of old, in his encounter with the Philis- 
tines ! 

Before the week was up I was ready, and started 
once more for Washington. There was lots of fun 
traveling in those days, for it cost nothing. All that it 
was necessar3 r to do was to exhibit the order received to 
the nearest quartermaster (and there were quartermas- 
ters stationed in almost every city just for such pur- 
poses) and he would give you an order on the railroad, 
which was technically known as "transportation." 
This order presented at the ticket office would give a 
ticket for the trip, whether it involved one or a thou- 
sand men. 

So I went to Washington in style. There were no 
Pullman cars in those days, or the officers would have 
patronized them. The officers always took the best 
there was to be had. I am speaking of the commis- 
sioned officer. Cattle cars were good enough for the 
enlisted men. But I had passed the great gulf and was 
now a commissioned officer. 

The weather was very cold and I wore my big over- 
coat, a dark blue, navy cloth garment, with a wide 
cape, and the front all decorated with braids and loops 
instead of buttons. The number of braids in the deco- 
rations indicated the rank. 

But they were not so noticeable as the bright new 
shoulder straps, and I remember throwing back my 
overcoat so that the shoulder straps would show. I 
only wish 3d that my mustache was a little bigger. 
The dye was wearing off. I would have to patronize 
that Washington barber again as soon as I reached the 
capital ! 

I will digress a moment to say that while I had re- 
ceived my appointment, I had not yet my regular com- 
mission. I did not receive that for some time after. 
The commission was precisely the same as those given 
to the officers of the regular army. They were signed 
by the President of the United States. They were 


neatly engraved on real parchment, and highly prized 
by the recipients, more so in fact than the commissions 
of volunteer officers, for the latter were signed only by 
the governors of States, while those of the regular army 
and the Veteran Reserve Corps were signed by the 
President of the United States, the secretary of war and 
the adjutant general. My own commission, which I 
have carefully retained to this day, bears the names of 
Abraham Lincoln, Edwin M. Stanton and E. D. Town- 
send, the incumbents, respectively, of the three offices 

I arrived in the evening, and went to the same hotel I 
had occupied before— the National. After I had been 
assigned to a room and left my valise and sword, I 
sauntered into the barroom. I didn't want a drink, but 
I thought I would just for once see what difference the 
shoulder straps would make. 

"Make me a light cocktail," I said to the barkeeper. 

"Certainly, lieutenant; what shall it be, whisky or 

I was now convinced that I had crossed the great 


For nearly two years after promotion the writer 
served as a commissioned officer, but not in the field. 
It was on detached service, in secret government work, 
on commissions, etc. It was interesting, exciting, and 
replete with adventures. But that is, to quote a well- 
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George Eliot or even Bayard Taylor." 

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story. The tale is interesting because it reflects with fidelity the life led by cer- 
tain sets of art students. A genuine romance, charmingly told." 

Congregationalist. Boston :—" Vivid, realistic. There is much of no- 
bility in it. A decided and excellent moral influence. It is charmingly written 
from cover to cover." 

Per sale everywhere, or sent post-paid on receipt of prices 

F. TENNYSON NEELY, Publisher, 
06 Queen Street, London. 114 Fifth AW"ui*, New Yttfe, 


Great English Remedy for 


Sure, Prompt, Effective. 

Large Box, 34, $1 ; Small, 14 Fills, 50 Cts 


Druggists and 224 William St., New York 

ra" c 


yMfttteoUS- ErfaplionS. 


This wonderful and match- 
less Ointment has been a 
family standby and reliance 
of three generations, being 
one of the oldest household 
remedies in America, and 
those having once used it and 
experienced its wonderful 
cnrative powers, would not be 
without a box for its weight 
in gold. It can also be used 
with good results on horses 
and cattle for open wounds, 
sore neck, etc., etc. 





For Preserving:, Restoring and 
Beautifying the Complexion. 

Sold by Druggists, Fancy Goods 
Houses and 224 William Street, 
Hew York. 

Box mailed on receipt of 25 cents. 





Box mailed on receipt of 30 cents. 

This is a most excellent 
article for cleansing and pre- 
serving the teeth. It hardens 
the gums, sweetens the breath, 
and beautifies the teeth. It 
contains no acid or harsh, 
gritty substance— nothing that 
can 'injure the enamel in the 
slighest degree. 

Sold by all Druggist, Fancy 
Stores and 224 William 
Street, New lork. 



The Greatest Pain Curing Remedy Known. 

Pain cannot long exist where this Remedy is faithfully-used. For Pain in the 
Stomach; Baek and Bowels; Flux, Colic, Burns, Bruises, Cuts, Swellings, Tooth. 
Aehe, Headache and Earache. 

Cures Almost Instantaneously. 

Mways keep a bottle In your Medicine Closet. 

Three Sizes, 25c, 50c. and $1.00. 









v—T*?!® 2^° n 4 e ^l wmrjendtainof' practical Information, pertaining to every 
hnn^»v£ n o?* ial .A nd Domestic Economy, embraces all that every mother anS 
«?*^ e fr er >, pe . edknow * J* gl^es general rules In regard to the proper selection 
2^^V.;5 e £ 88 £ m £ n . n sr°f Preparing same, what should and should NOT be used 
S ^Wttv'LWH based on the excellent medical Instructions also 


^ ni ! J >ook fe?° arranged, written and illustrated, that It eaves many times its 
cost to the purchaser every year. The best treatment in the world within the reacn 
of all. The purchaser of Dr. Carlin's Thysician invests his money at 1000 percent. 
Interest. Index of Symptoms. Index of Diseases. List of Medicines, their 
properties, how to prepare them and how to administer them. 


It will Save Many Times Its Cost in One Tear. 

IT your child Is sick, consult it. If you are worn out, it suggests a remedy. If yon 

want to start a garden, it tells you how. If your husband is out of sorts. It will tell 

you what he needs. If you need help in your cooking, nothing Is better. If any 

thing goes wrong in your household affairs, 


and explains so you can make no mistake. 
The work Is voluminous In all its details, and written In such a way as to be 
readily understood by all. Any case of ordinary sickness Is fully treated, and such 
remedies suggested as are easily obtainable and at small cost. 

DR. CARLIN needs no Indorsement. Born In Bedford, England, he 
acquired a reputation second to no physician in that country, which is a grand rec- 
ord. His grandfather, father and several brothers were eminent doctors, indicat- 
ing a peculiar fitness of the family In this direction. His practical knowledge waa 
of wide scope. much of whict he has embodied in this great and indispensable boo*. 


Beg. Subscription Price, $g. v o. Orders Solicited. Special Terms to Agent* 


^IDAQ©, publisher. NEW YORK. 

RK i 

Petfonilla, the Sister. 

By Emma Homan Thayer. 

Cloth, $1.25. 1 

Mrs. Thayer's art books have made for her & 
world-wide reputation as a writer, and an illustra- 
tor of the wildflowers of America. "Petronilla" 
is her first novel, and we can honestly recommend 
it as a most delightful story indeed. The gifted 
writer paints human loves and vanities with much 
the same dexterity she has exhibited as an artist in 
delineating the delicate hues of the modest wild- 
flowers she so fondly worships. We take pleasure 
in recommending so chaste and interesting a story 
to the public. In this day of erotic literature such 
a book is doubly welcome, and "Petronilla" is of 
such a character as to hold the reader's attention to 
the last page. The scenes are laid in New York 
v!ity, with a bright and spicy visit on a ranch in the 
mountains of Colorado, a region in which the writer 
is evidently at home. The illustrations, some forty 
in number, partly by the author, and ably abetted; 
by the well-known artist, Remington W. Lane, a^ 
piquancy to the letterpress. 

For sale everywhere, or sent post-paid on receipt of price. 

F. TENNYSON NEELY, Publisher, 
§6 Queen Street, London, 114 Fifth Avenue, New York-' 







3 03